A/N - I think I've said only one more chapter after this one. But I've decided to add an epilogue so there'll be two more. I'm just OCD enough that I can't end a story on chapter 7, I like even numbers :) I still don't own anything. Thanks so much for sticking around and for the reviews and just for reading in general. I really appreciate it!

Chapter 6

"Brittany?" Seventeen-year-old Santana asked timidly.

The blonde turned to the smaller girl with a patient smile. "Yeah San?"

Santana Lopez had just announced to the entire school that she was crazy gay for one Brittany S. Pierce. At the prom, up on stage in front of everyone no less. Now the two were standing out under the stars hand in hand, enjoying the closeness.

Santana exhaled and squeezed Brittany's hand. "Britt, if…if I get a slushy facial every day for the rest of my high school life…will you still…will you be ashamed of me?"

"What?" Brittany exclaimed. "San, I could never, ever be ashamed of you. I'd be proud."

The Latina scoffed. "You'd be proud to date someone who got slushied every day?"

The blonde stepped closer and softly nuzzled Santana's dark hair with her nose, inhaling her new girlfriend's scent. "Baby," Brittany whispered. "First of all, I'm proud to be with you whether you're getting slushied or doing the slushying. Because you'd be getting it for loving me and not being ashamed of me. You're not ashamed of me are you?"

Santana leaned back slightly and gazed up into Brittany's bright blue eyes. She smiled and shook her head without hesitating. "No Brittany, I'm not ashamed of you. I'll take a slushy everyday for you."

Brittany beamed a smile back at Santana. "Second of all, it's not gonna happen anyway. No one would dare mess with you. I won't let them."

"You won't?" Santana asked with a chuckle.

"Nope." The blonde replied firmly. "I'll be like a total ninja and throw myself between you and the slush."

Santana had to laugh at the image but grew serious again. "You would do that for me?"

Brittany smiled the sweetest smile Santana could ever remember seeing. "Totally. I'd do anything for you Santana."

xxxx

"Brittany, we have to talk." Santana said softly, worrying her bottom lip between her teeth.

The blonde arched a brow and stood up from her stretching position on the floor. She was just cooling down from her dance routine and was dressed in a tank top and workout pants, a light sheen of sweat glistening.

"About what Sanny?" she replied.

Santana sighed. "About what we're going to do after graduation. It's next month you know. I know you didn't apply to any colleges but…I did. And I got accepted to a few."

"Of course you did San, you're like super smart." Brittany said, not quite understanding the serious demeanor of her girlfriend. "Did you not get into the one you really wanted? Or wait, I know, you got into too many and don't know which one to go to?"

"It's not that Britt." Santana said with another sigh. "I know where I want to go and I got in there. I just…I can't decide until we talk…about what you're going to do. Britt, what are you going to do? Where are you going to go? I know you want to dance but this is fucking Lima Ohio, you can't just stay here. I mean; if you do want to stay here…I'll visit every chance I get but…fuck Brittany. I don't think I can leave you."

Brittany furrowed her brow and frowned. "But San, I thought I was going with you?"

Santana had fought, and lost, the battle with the tears stinging her eyes at the thought of being separated from Brittany and was sniffling quietly. When the blonde's words registered, her head snapped up. "What? What did you say Britt?"

Now it was Brittany's turn to feel tears threatening and her face fell. "I said I thought I was going with you, wherever you decided to go. I didn't ask you though. Should I have?"

Santana rushed closer to Brittany and grabbed her shoulders, shaking her slightly. "You want to come with me? You don't even know where I'm going and you're ok with coming with me? Really?"

Brittany pursed her lips, trying to determine if this was in some way a trick question. "Um…I want to come with you. I don't need to know where you're going…just that I'm going too. I can can't I?"

Santana finally smiled and threw her arms around the taller girl. "Yes, of course you can come! You'll get a job dancing no matter where we go because you're the best!"

"Dancers are needed everywhere San." Brittany replied seriously. "We're like dentists or something. I don't care where we go, as long as you let me come with you."

"You would just pick up and go anywhere I wanted? You would just follow me even if we ended up in some place worse than Lima, God forbid? You would do that for me?"

Brittany held Santana tightly and pressed a kiss to her temple. "Santana, I'd do anything for you."

xxxx

As the years passed, both girls needed encouragement from time to time. When just a few weeks before graduation, it became apparent Brittany needed to get a certain score on a math test to actually graduate, Santana threw herself into the role of tutor. She skipped a weekend at the lake house with her family to help Brittany study. Finally, the night before the test, she declared she'd stay behind another year if it came to that.

"You'd do that for me Santana?"

The brunette smiled and kissed Brittany softly. "Of course babe. I'd do anything for you."

When times were hard, classes were demanding, money was tight or life was just plain complicated, they would often cuddle together and one would softly ask, "What would you do? If I needed you, what would you do?"

When Brittany was the one worried or stressed and asked the question, Santana would hold her tightly. "I'd do anything for you Britt. I'd climb the highest tower, swim the deepest ocean, just like that cheesy old song says."

Brittany would giggle. "Would you jaywalk in the middle of rush hour for me?"

"Hell yeah."

"Would you jump in front of a stampede of penguins?"

"I'd scare those penguins so badly they'd learn to fly before they'd mess with you again."

"You'd do that for me?"

Santana would tighten her grip slightly before responding, "Of course baby, I'd do anything for you."

Brittany's response to the question was always the same as well. "Santana, I'd do anything for you."

In the years that the two were together, Brittany did dive in front of more than one slushy facial and pick up and move following Santana wherever school or jobs led. When Brittany called Santana at work one day saying she had fallen during dance rehearsal at the studio and was being taken to the hospital for an x-ray, the brunette had done more than jaywalk, she had in fact forced the cab driver to move over and let her drive, cutting through alleys and onto sidewalks to be by the blonde's side.

Brittany and Santana proved to each other that there really wasn't anything they wouldn't do for the other. But that night in the alley, Santana couldn't help but wish she had never witnessed just to what extent Brittany was willing to go to keep her safe.

xxxx

"Do you trust me Brittany?"

The words repeated in Brittany's mind as she took Santana's hand and allowed the smaller woman to pull her to her feet. She fought the feeling of panic when she realized Santana was leading her toward the bedroom. She hesitated in the doorway, her breath beginning to grow shallow.

Santana sensed her discomfort and squeezed the blonde's hand gently. "I was thinking maybe we could take a bath. Just to relax. Have you noticed the size of that tub? It's huge."

Brittany gnawed on her bottom lip, still uneasy but hating herself for it. She met Santana's warm gaze. "Do you trust me Brittany?" The blonde lost herself for a moment in Santana's deep, dark eyes and felt herself relax.

"Yes." She whispered, mostly to herself. "A bath might be nice."

Santana smiled and stepped closer, taking Brittany's other hand so that she was holding them both. She closed the distance between them and stood up on her toes to press a kiss to Brittany's lips.

Santana pulled away and went into the bathroom, digging out candles that Tina and Mercedes had picked up on the supply run Rachel had sent them out on. Once they had returned with the goods and Rachel had tucked the bags away, she had helped Santana hide the items in the bathroom.

The brunette arranged the candles around the tub and lit them as the water began to fill it. She stepped back and pulled off her own clothes, replacing them with a short robe tied loosely and then clipped her hair back. When the tub was filled, she turned the water off and returned to the bedroom.

Brittany was sitting on the edge of the bed looking lost as she clutched her shirt in her hands. Santana could see that the blonde's hands were trembling even from a few feet away. She let her gaze wander over the dancer's thin frame, bruises still evident but finally beginning to fade slightly.

Brittany had already removed her pants and was left in just her undergarments and was clearly losing confidence. Santana stepped closer and with her hands on either side of the blonde's face, stroked her cheeks with her thumbs until Brittany looked up at her. Santana sighed at the lost look on the blonde's face and found herself at a loss for words.

She leaned down and gently pressed their lips together again. Pulling away just enough to once again meet Brittany's gaze, Santana reached around the blonde and carefully unclasped her bra.

Brittany clenched her jaw and whimpered slightly as Santana pulled the garment away from her body. She allowed the brunette to pull her to her feet once the bra and shirt had been discarded. Santana smiled tenderly as they walked into the bathroom, the candles the only light in the room.

"It's beautiful San." Brittany said softly, eyeing the tub surrounded by candlelight.

Santana smiled and raised Brittany's hand to lips, kissing the back of it, before stepping away. She dropped the robe from her shoulders and moved closer to the tub, her hand reaching back for Brittany to join her. "Water's getting cold babe."

Brittany nodded and with a nervous sigh, slipped out of her panties and dropped carefully into the deep pool of water. Santana climbed in behind her and allowed Brittany a moment to settle against her. She immediately felt the tension in the blonde's muscles and she placed her hands on pale shoulders.

"Relax Britt." Santana cooed softly. "There's nothing to be afraid of."

"I know I shouldn't be scared anymore but…I am. I'm scared San."

Santana recognized by the tremor in Brittany's voice that she was close to tears. "Of me holding you? Of holding me?"

She gently pulled the blonde's shoulders to draw her closer so their bodies were flush against each other. Santana dropped a kiss to Brittany's shoulder and stroked up and down her arms lightly with her fingertips.

Brittany sighed and almost in spite of herself, began to relax slightly. "It's not the holding San. You know that. I love holding each other. I'm just scared of what might happen. What if it hurts? What if I see him again? What if I hurt you? I get wicked mean just dreaming about it…I'm scared I'll hurt you."

"If you hurt me, not that I think you will, I'll heal." Santana replied calmly, dropping her chin to Brittany's shoulder. She wrapped her arms around the blonde's waist and squeezed gently.

Brittany gripped Santana's arms around her waist and scratched lightly with her nails. "Does it ever get better you think?" she asked hopefully.

"It already has hasn't it?" Santana responded quietly. "Look at us, we're sitting together in the tub. A month and a half ago when we got here, you couldn't even let me hug you. Look how far you've come…how great you're doing. It'll take time but you just have to keep taking it one day at a time."

They fell quiet then, both deep in thought. Santana held Brittany tightly until the water began to grow lukewarm. "We can stay here if you want." Santana said softly. "Or we can go back out into the living room and watch the sun set over the lake."

"Ok." Brittany replied softly, once again tensing slightly. "Yeah, that might be good."

Santana pressed another kiss to her shoulder. "Good." She replied, sliding out from behind Brittany and climbing out of the tub. She picked up a fluffy towel and held her hand out for the blonde to take.

When Brittany stepped out of the tub, Santana wrapped the towel around her and smiled. "Can you get dried off and blow out the candles? I just need a minute."

Brittany eyed her almost skeptically but nodded. Santana smiled again and pulled her robe back on, tying it loosely once again before slipping out of the room and heading into the laundry room where the rest of the supplies were stashed. She pulled out freshly dried and fluffed towels and a new, thick feather down quilt.

Santana spread the quilt down on the floor and draped a thick fluffy towel over it as well. With a nervous sigh, she then pulled out two small bottles of massage oil she had hidden in a cupboard. She quickly cast her gaze upward as if in a silent prayer that the night would go well.

Turning back to the bedroom, Brittany met her in the doorway; still wearing just the towel Santana had wrapped her in.

"Hi." The blonde whispered softly. She eyed the makeshift massage table Santana had erected on the floor and quirked a brow.

Santana smiled and pulled her gently by the hand further into the room. "Want to lay down on your stomach?"

Brittany nodded and slowly knelt on the soft quilt before settling on her stomach, towel still firmly in place. Santana gently tugged on the towel just slightly, loosening it a bit. "Are you comfortable Britt? Ok if I loosen this just a bit?"

Brittany exhaled shakily and propped herself up on one elbow and untucked the towel so it was merely covering her without being bound around her thin frame. She nodded and settled back down onto her stomach and turned her head to gaze out the window.

The sun was sinking lower and casting an orange glow over the shimmering lake. Santana felt her breath hitch as she saw the light reflected in the blonde's blue eyes. Brittany looked away from the water and caught Santana's loving gaze. She smiled slightly before closing her eyes and dropping her chin onto one hand that was curled under her. She instinctively had a corner of the towel wadded tightly in her clenched fist, her tension evident.

Santana frowned seeing the tension in the blonde's body. She picked up the small bottle of oil and poured a small amount into her palm. The scent of roses and vanilla invaded her senses and she smiled again.

"I'm going to pull the towel back now ok babe?" Santana said softly, not wanting to startle the blonde. Brittany nodded, eyes still closed.

Santana pulled the towel down to the blonde's hips and slowly, gently began to work the oil into Brittany's pale shoulders and back. From her shoulder blades down her arms and then up her neck, Santana could feel the tight muscles beginning to slacken. As a soft moan sounded from the Brittany, the brunette smiled.

Pouring more oil into her hand, Santana began to work her way down the blonde's back, once again warning when the towel needed to be moved lower. Brittany sighed in contentment as the tension continued to fade away. Santana began to hum quietly as she moved further down the blonde's body, massaging down Brittany's legs to her feet. She gave a light tickle to a pale foot causing Brittany to giggle and jerk her foot away.

Santana smiled and scooted back up Brittany's body and propped herself up on one elbow, lying next to her. "Are you ok to roll over onto your back?"

A flash of fear crossed Brittany's face but she clenched her jaw and forced a weak smile onto her face, even if just briefly. She nodded slightly. Brittany reached for Santana's hand, tangling their fingers together and rolled onto her back, pulling the towel up so that it draped lightly over her chest. She kept their clasped hands against her chest and released another shaky breath.

Santana remained lounging next to Brittany, wanting to somehow ease her nervousness. She squeezed the blonde's hand gently. With her free hand, she softly caressed Brittany's cheek with the back of her fingers.

"How you doing babe?" Santana asked quietly.

Brittany shrugged but nodded. "I'm ok I think."

The Latina leaned closer to brush her lips across the blonde's gently. Brittany reached up and tugged Santana's hair loose from the clasp she had pulled it back in, allowing it to spill over her tan shoulders.

"I like your hair down San. It's so pretty, especially with the light shining off of it."

"I'll leave it down then." Santana whispered. She disentangled her fingers from Brittany's and pressed her palm flat against the blonde's chest. She could feel Brittany's heartbeat speeding up and tension creeping back into her body. "You ok for me to keep going?"

Brittany swallowed thickly but nodded. "I-I'm scared." She whispered. "I think this might be super intense San. I don't want to hurt you."

"Don't worry about me Brittany." Santana replied. "We can stop anytime. If you don't want to do this, that is totally fine. I would never push you if you're not ok babe. You know that right?"

"I can't not worry about you San. I think it's like indrained in me or something."

Santana smiled tenderly. "Ingrained babe." At Brittany's nod, Santana gently cupped her cheek. "Do me a favor and just for tonight, let it go ok? I'm pretty tough Britt. I am from Lima Heights Adjacent after all. Let me be strong for you, please?"

"Sanny," Brittany sighed, "you're always strong for me. You always have been."

But she nodded, tilting her head back and exhaling again, long and shaky. Brittany let her hands drop to her sides and she balled the towel into her fists again. Santana took the oil and began to gently move over Brittany's shoulders and chest, then up her neck. She cupped the blonde's face and pressed a kiss to each of Brittany's closed eyelids whispering a soft "I love you."

Brittany opened her eyes and Santana felt her stomach clench at the sight of tears beginning to sparkle. She gently brushed them away as the first tears leaked. Santana held Brittany's watery gaze as the blonde blindly grasped for one of her hands, clasping them again over her chest.

"You're sure?" the brunette whispered, squeezing Brittany's hand.

At the blonde's timid nod, Santana exhaled and leaned forward quickly, pressing a kiss to her pale forehead before scooting backwards so that she was sitting alongside Brittany's torso. She lightly lifted the towel away from Brittany's chest, letting it rest over her hips. The blonde whimpered as the cloth was peeled away and her still bruised chest and abdomen were exposed.

Santana sighed as she let her gaze linger on the lean ridges of muscle on the dancer's abdomen that had protected her from deeper injury during the attack. She lightly dropped a palm onto Brittany's firm stomach and felt the muscle jerk beneath her and then settle as the blonde tried to calm her own nerves at the touch.

Santana took one last, long look at Brittany's slightly trembling form before she began to move her hands over pale skin. Over the curve of each breast, down the slight ridges of her ribcage, barely a graze over the still significant bruises lingering. Santana watched as Brittany pulled her bottom lip between her teeth, her breath catching slightly.

The brunette continued lower, gently kneading the skin of Brittany's belly but stopped just as her hands grazed the towel still draped over her hips. The blonde's breathing was ragged and although Santana could tell she was frightened, she could also tell that Brittany was turned on as well.

Santana fanned her thumb just under the area of Brittany's belly button and softly cleared her throat. "Is it ok if I…"

Brittany sighed shakily but nodded, her wide blue eyes snapping to Santana's soft brown gaze. Santana tried to smile in encouragement before picking up a loose fold of the towel and wiped any excess oil from her hands. She reached behind her for a pillow and slid a hand underneath Brittany and the towels, gently gesturing for the blonde to lift her hips and slid the pillow under her, slightly elevating her midsection.

As Santana twisted to reach for the pillow, the tie of her robe slipped and she left it open so that it would be bare skin brushing Brittany's as she moved to sit between her bent legs. She reached for the towel again, her eyes asking for permission before pulling the cloth away. Brittany clenched her jaw but nodded again.

Santana lifted the towel away and Brittany immediately clenched her eyes closed tightly. She picked up the second bottle of oil, remembering Rachel's warning that even if Brittany seemed aroused; she would have to be as gentle as possible since even the slightest friction could be unbearable to the blonde.

Santana poured the oil into her hand and then gently let it run down over Brittany's center, leaning over to brush a cheek against the blonde's knee when she gasped and whimpered. Santana began to touch her, painfully gently. Brittany's breath hitched and a shiver tore through her thin frame.

Santana could tell from years of living, and sleeping, with the blonde that she was turned on even though she was clearly frightened. She once again remembered Rachel's words, that the goal was to help Brittany be alright with being touched and not just about the touching alone.

Brittany's left hand released her fierce grip on the towel and she reached for Santana's right hand that was resting on her hip. Santana squeezed the blonde's hand and rested their clasped fingers on Brittany's abdomen. The brunette watched Brittany intently, eyeing her as she sucked in a harsh breath.

"Babe?" Santana whispered.

The blonde sighed again but nodded, clenching her jaw. Santana squeezed their clasped fingers one final time before slowly sliding one finger just barely inside.

Brittany reacted immediately. She arched her back, her breath coming in quick gasps and nearing hyperventilation. She twisted her hips violently, trying to resist the urge to fight and buck Santana away.

"It's ok baby." Santana cooed, forcing herself to remain still and not withdraw and end the pain immediately. She was desperate to end Brittany's pain and fear but knew if they didn't work through it, the pain would simply fester and cause more damage. Santana grit her teeth, forcing herself to remain still and not gather Brittany into her arms and rock her like a baby.

"Shit!" Brittany cried out, almost choking as she struggled to breathe. "It hurts, San…I can feel it! Santana!"

"Listen to me babe," Santana replied, keeping her voice low and calm. "It's not real. It's just me here; you're safe. Just breathe baby, it'll pass."

"San?" Brittany whimpered, trying to take deep breathes but tensing involuntarily.

"Just keep breathing B." Santana said softly, gently thumbing the blonde's abdomen, their hands still tightly clasped. "Do you want me to stop?"

Santana kept her gaze on Brittany's face, trying not to think about the pain she was causing, hating herself for causing it.

"I'm…I'm ok." Brittany said, taking a deep breath. She thrust her head back, angling her throat toward the ceiling and continued to try to control her breathing.

"Are you sure?" Santana asked; her brow furrowed. The blonde nodded.

Santana released her own shaky breath and slid her finger in just a bit further. Brittany again reacted as if she were being stabbed or burned. She tensed and gripped Santana's hand so hard the brunette was afraid she heard bones pop. She bit her lip and forced herself to remain quiet as she waited for Brittany to process not only the memories, but also the sensations through her body.

"I know he's not here San." Brittany panted. "I know it's not real, I know he's not here. But it hurts and…"

Santana pressed her cheek against the blonde's tense leg once again. "Don't fight Britt. Just let go babe." She murmured quietly.

Santana moved her hand again, this time without the blonde reacting quite as violently. Brittany whimpered and Santana flinched, remembering the sounds she heard from the blonde that night in that cold alley. "It's ok Brittany. I'm here." She whispered. "I'm right here."

Once Brittany seemed calm again, she began to move her hand again, moving inside her just slightly. Santana continued to whisper softly as they worked through the pain together. Suddenly, the blonde tensed again, her body contracting, but not from pleasure and tears began to pour from her blue eyes.

Santana kept her hand in place, moving slowly inside Brittany, and almost timidly pressed her thumb against outer nerves. Brittany's eyes snapped open and she half coughed, half moaned at the sensation. "San?"

"It's ok Brittany, I'm right here. Do you want me to stop?"

Tears continued to flow from Brittany's eyes. "I don't know." She cried pitifully. "No…I don't think so…keep…go on."

"Breathe, Brittany." Santana said softly. "I promise, I'm here. I'm not going to hurt you. I love you…please let me take care of you."

"Just let her love you." Brittany's breathing sped up again, her body involuntarily responding to Santana's movements as the pain subsided. Her mind continued to fight however, as thoughts of that alley broke through and she saw flashes of a snarling man, smelled the liquor on his breath, and felt pain searing through her. The blonde fought to focus on Santana, on those deep chocolate eyes beginning to tear at the sight of Brittany in such pain.

Santana couldn't help but notice how Brittany's muscles were tensing against her. "Britt? Baby, what do you need? Tell me…please."

"I…I need…." Brittany clenched her jaw and shook her head almost frantically.

Shit baby; let go. Santana thought to herself as Brittany continued to fight, her body almost completely tense. The brunette began to worry that she would snap from the tension. Santana scooted around to the side so that she was sitting beside Brittany, still gripping her hand tightly with her left hand still in place. She removed her right hand from Brittany's desperate grip and reached, slipping her hand beneath her shoulder blades. Santana lifted the blonde gently, cradling her in her arm and braced her leg against the small of her back, holding Brittany upright.

"Brittany…baby, look at me." Brittany clenched her jaw and shook her head. Santana repeated the words softly, "Brittany look at me. Please open your eyes love."

Brittany finally complied and Santana felt her heart breaking at the sight of the pain she saw reflected in those normally bright blue eyes. She sighed. "Britt, listen to me. Baby, you have to let this go. You have to let go."

"It's gonna hurt." Brittany whispered desperately. "I can feel it. I'm gonna break San."

"I'm here." Santana whispered fiercely. "I'm here and I'm not letting go. If you break, I'll put you back together, I swear Brittany. I won't let you go Britt. I'm here. I'm here."

Santana clenched her jaw and began to move her hand faster, feeling the pressure locked in Brittany's trembling frame. Suddenly, Brittany's breath hitched and she let loose a wailing cry. The blonde's muscles twitched and Santana struggled to hold Brittany as waves of tension forced their way out of the blonde's body.

Brittany clung desperately to Santana, her fists clenched tightly in the brunette's robe. She slumped further into Santana's arms as she sobbed; her face buried the Latina's neck.

Santana felt the blonde's tears dampening her skin. She rocked Brittany gently as she came down, holding her in a tight embrace. "I love you Brittany." She whispered. "You are so brave baby…and so strong. You're the most beautiful thing I've ever seen. God I love you. Do you hear me Brittany, I love you."

Brittany continued to weep in her arms. "You didn't let go." She finally whispered, her voice broken.

Santana wrapped the towels back around Brittany's body and laid them both back down onto the feather quilt. She wrapped her body around the blonde's still trembling frame, easing her into a calmer state.

"Of course not baby." Santana finally whispered. "I'm never letting you go."

"You…you'd do that for me?" Brittany asked. Santana felt her own tears begin to leak from her eyes, a sob building in her throat.

"Yeah, baby. I'd do that for you. I'd do anything for you."

Santana sighed as she felt Brittany's arms warp around her and hold her tightly. She cast her gaze out the window and over the sun just dipping below the horizon. She pressed a kiss to Brittany's temple as they held each other.

xxxx

Santana knew she was dreaming but she couldn't force herself awake. She whimpered; her mind fully controlled by her dreams. She could see the scene vividly.

Brittany was crumpled in the middle of the alley, her clothing ripped away from her body, her breathing harsh and ragged. The whimpering and grunting had finally ended, both Brittany and James falling silent.

Santana tried to remind herself, even in her dream that she had to remain conscious once the attackers left because Brittany was far too injured to be able to call for help. James pulled himself up and away from the blonde, readjusting his clothing. Brittany remained motionless.

Santana startled awake, sunlight on her face. She groaned, even at the realization that they had slept through the night. They had both crawled into bed, drained and shaken from the nights events. Yet when she blearily opened her eyes, Santana still felt bone weary.

With a sigh, she felt long, lean arms wrap around her body and pull her close. She moaned slightly, pressing her face into Brittany's shoulder as the blonde's body shielded her from the offending sunlight.

Brittany pressed a kiss to the brunette's forehead. "You still asleep Sanny?"

Santana grunted and nodded, not willing to open her eyes further or form words in fear that she would be forced fully awake.

She felt Brittany smile against her forehead. "Did you wear yourself out last night?"

Santana burrowed further into Brittany's arms and nodded again. She felt a chuckle ripple through the blonde's frame as she tightened her grip. "Want to go back to sleep?"

Santana tried to speak but found she was still unable to form words. Instead she settled for a third nod. Brittany kissed her forehead again. "Then you just go back to sleep Sanny. It's your turn to sleep in and rest."

xxxx

Santana woke for real sometime later and found Brittany's side of the bed empty. The sweatshirt and shorts that had been draped over a chair in the corner of the room the day before were gone. As she dressed and slipped out of the bedroom, heading for the kitchen, Santana heard soft music floating in the air.

She reached the kitchen and found it empty; as was the living room she had passed through. Turning back to look out the windows onto the deck, she saw a flurry of movement, of blonde hair. Santana stepped closer to the window to investigate but then stopped still, transfixed.

Brittany had soft flowing music playing and she was dancing outside on the deck. It wasn't the fun hip-hop that was normally associated with the blonde, it was the slow, twirling, expressive arches and ballet-like movements that Brittany performed when dancing just for herself.

Santana watched as minutes passed and the blonde danced on. Sweat glistened on her forehead and began to seep through the sweatshirt she was wearing but Brittany had a peaceful look on her face. Santana leaned against the doorframe, watching as the blonde arched and spun beautifully. She finally eased outside quietly, not wanting to disturb Brittany.

The blonde was panting slightly as the song ended. "Hi San." She said softly with a glance over her shoulder. She leaned forward and rested her weight against the porch railing.

Santana hadn't realized Brittany was aware of her presence but at the greeting she stepped closer and wrapped her arms around the blonde's waist, her cheek pressed between her shoulder blades. "Hi Britt. That was beautiful."

"I'm way out of shape." Brittany responded softly, moving a hand to cover Santana's clasped around her waist.

The brunette squeezed gently. "Nah, just a little out of practice. You're still amazing. Do you think you could eat some breakfast?"

"I probably could." Brittany turned in her arms and smoothed Santana's sleep mussed hair away from her face. She smiled and leaned forward, pressing their lips together. Her expression turned worried as she eyed Santana. "You still worn out Sanny? You feeling ok?"

"I'm ok Britt." Santana replied, trying to smile brightly. She was still too tired to muster more than a grin. "Emotional hangover maybe?"

Brittany chuckled. "Seems fair. I think you've earned it."

They walked together back into the kitchen where Brittany poured two cups of coffee. She placed one in front of the brunette where she had settled into a chair at the table. "San, I've been thinking."

At Brittany's soft tone, Santana tilted her head to the side. "About what babe?"

Brittany sighed and shrugged her shoulders. "I think maybe I want to try going home. Quinn's 30th birthday is coming up and Rachel is going to get that lead in the show, I know it. Your parents anniversary is coming up too…we can't miss that stuff."

Santana's emotions swirled. She was first thrilled that Brittany was ready and willing to take that risk. But fear followed quickly, fear that it would be too much for the blonde to handle, that she wouldn't be able to cope with the change. Fear that she herself, wouldn't be able to handle being back so near the alley where they had been attacked.

Santana kept her gaze steady as she eyed the blonde. "Are you sure you're ready babe?"

"No." Brittany replied honestly. "I'm not sure but…San, I can't hide forever. Coming here, it was the best thing that you could have done for me. And it's been just what I needed but to keep getting better we have to move on right? And doesn't that mean going back home and trying to live again? We have an awesome life San, I don't want those guys to take that from us."

For reasons that Santana couldn't identify, she felt tears pooling. She fought against them, tried to swallow the sob that was building in her throat, but she couldn't hold it in.

"San?" Brittany whispered. She heard the blonde's own chair sliding back and then felt Brittany's arms wrap around her. "Santana, what is it?"

Santana continued to weep and shook her head. Brittany pulled her closer, cupping the back of her head with her hand as the brunette cried into the front of her sweatshirt. The blonde finally pulled Santana to her feet gently. "Come on." She said quietly.

She led the smaller woman back into the bedroom and they settled on the bed facing each other. Brittany pulled Santana closer and the brunette buried her head, nuzzling her face into the blonde's neck as Brittany held her.

"You have bad dreams sometimes too." Brittany said softly. "Sometimes you talk to yourself too. You usually calm down if I touch you…but sometimes you don't."

"Brittany what are you doing watching me when you should be sleeping yourself?" Santana replied, her voice muffled in the blonde's sweatshirt. "You need to rest Britt."

Brittany sighed and pressed her cheek to the top of Santana's head. "This has been bad for you too Sanny. I've been pretty selfish…just thinking about my own stuff and not helping you. You were hurt too."

"I'm fine baby." Santana mumbled. "All I care about is making sure you're ok."

"But San, I'm not ok if you're not ok. You should know that by now. Talk to me…I want to help." She tipped Santana's chin up so their eyes could meet. "You asked me not to shut you out…so I'm asking the same thing."

Santana swallowed hard against the lump in her throat. "Britt…I can't…I don't have the right to ask anything of you after…"

Brittany gave a sad smile. "That's not what my heart says San. I love you. Let me be tough for you since you have been for me. Tomorrow I'll go back to being all jumpy and weepy. Ok?"

Santana released a long slow breath and finally nodded. "I dream about it a lot. I see you hurt…that bastard…and in my dream I know I have to help, I have to get help. But I can't abandon you again."

"Again?" Brittany asked softly. "Santana you didn't abandon me. You know that right? My head is crazy sometimes but I'm more sure about that than I am that Charity read my diary. You didn't abandon me."

"But you-"

"I did what I had to do. I made a choice and it's the same one I would make every single time. I told you San, I'd go through that a bazillion times to keep you safe."

Santana felt tears pouring down her cheeks, as she pressed further into Brittany's chest. "I'm so sorry Brittany. I'm so sorry."

Brittany pulled back slightly, confused. "Santana, I just said you don't have to be sorry didn't I? It's not your fault baby."

"But if I had just listened to you and not cut through!" she sobbed. "You didn't want to cut through the alley and I made you. I never listen…oh God, if we hadn't…it's my…I'm-I'm so sorry!"

"That's it Sanny, just let it all out." Brittany pressed a kiss to Santana's forehead, holding her as she sobbed out all the grief and pain of the last month and a half. She cried for her own rage at feeling so helpless, both that night and now. She cried for Brittany's stolen innocence.

Santana's sobs were finally reduced to soft whimpers as she held onto Brittany tightly. She took a deep breath and wiped at her eyes with her fingers. The blonde brought her sleeve up and dabbed at the tears on her cheeks before kissing Santana's forehead. She twisted behind her and snagged a tissue from the nightstand, watching while Santana continued to wipe at her eyes and then blew her nose.

Brittany stared intently into the brunette's eyes until she was certain she had her full attention. "San," she said seriously. "You sounded like that goose that lived under my porch when we were kids."

Santana chuckled as Brittany pinched her now red nose. "Shut up B," she laughed. "You're the one who told me to cry."

Brittany smiled and brushed Santana's hair out of her face. "Yep. I think it was time." She dabbed at the brunette's cheeks one more time with her sleeve. "Why don't you turn around San."

Santana nodded and pulled herself away from Brittany just long enough to turn onto her side and flip the pillow over so that she could rest her head on the cool, dry side. Brittany quickly settled into place behind her, pulling the smaller woman flush against her front. They clasped their hands over Santana's chest.

"Can I ask you something San?"

"Of course Britt." Santana immediately responded, squeezing the blonde's hand.

"Are you ready to go home?" Brittany asked softly.

Santana sighed and drew Brittany's arms even tighter around her frame. "I honestly don't know babe."

She felt Brittany nod into her shoulder behind her. They remained quiet for a few more moments before Brittany spoke again. "I want you to do something for me Santana."

"Anything." Santana replied.

"I want you to tell me your side of what happened that night in the alley."

Every muscle in Santana's body tensed. She tried to untangle herself from Brittany's embrace but the blonde held on. "No Britt. Please don't ask me to do that…anything but that."

"Please San." Brittany said softly, still holding the brunette in place.

"No Brittany." Santana said, still squirming in Brittany's hold. "I can't. Please."

"San, please listen to me." Brittany said, hooking a leg over Santana's and pressing a kiss to her neck. "You understand me better than anyone and you understand what happened to me. But you were hurt too and I want to understand. You might not have been-"

Santana felt Brittany tense, felt her struggling against the word. She stopped trying to break from the blonde's hold and eased back against Brittany's body.

"You might not have been raped," Brittany finally said in a soft voice. "But you were hurt too. You were in just as much danger as I was and you had to face that all alone."

"Babe that hardly compares to what you did for m-"

"This isn't a Cheerio's competition San." Brittany interrupted, squeezing tightly. "We were both hurt San. Seeing him touch you, seeing him hurt you…that would have snapped me clean in half Santana. I did what I had to do to keep that from happening. That was my choice and I'd do it again in a second."

"Your choice…" Santana mumbled softly. She suddenly felt something click inside of her and felt another choked sob trying to force its way out of her throat.

Brittany tightened her hold again. "Hey. Talk to me San. Please." She soothed.

Santana felt her sorrow giving way to anger as she thought back to that night. "I didn't have a choice." She spat. "I couldn't fight, I couldn't move. I couldn't do anything, I couldn't even scream! All I could do was watch. I felt so fucking helpless! And I-" her throat locked up then and she struggled to get more words out.

Brittany rubbed Santana's arms gently and waited for her to calm. "Keep going San."

Santana sighed, releasing a ragged breath. "I was scared. I try to pretend nothing scares me but…when he started hurting you…" She closed her eyes and tried to push past the ache in her chest.

"Tell me San." Brittany whispered, her breath hitting the Latina's neck softly. "I need to understand, not just for you but for me too. Please."

Santana clenched her eyes shut and finally spoke again, using slow, halting phrases to describe everything that had happened that night in the alley. When she finished speaking, her throat felt raw and dry. "I was scared." She said again. "I was so afraid we were going to die…or worse, you would die and I'd live. I was so afraid I was going to lose you."

Brittany squeezed her tightly, allowing a comfortable silence and calm to fall on them. Minutes passed with neither breaking the quiet until Brittany softly whispered. "Thank you."

Santana turned in the blonde's arms and gazed at her red-rimmed eyes. Brushing blonde hair away from her face, she rested her palm against Brittany's cheek. "For what Britt?"

"For telling me everything…and for everything else. This would have killed me without you Santana."

Santana smiled and brushed their lips together. "I don't think it would have Brittany. You're stronger than you know. Stronger than I could ever be."

"We should stick together then." Brittany replied seriously. "So we can be strong for each other."

"Deal." Santana said softly. "So…we're going home?"

Brittany seemed thoughtful again but a small smile finally eased its way onto her face. "Yeah. Let's go home."