"I don't get it."

Santana doesn't glance up from the magazine spread out across her lap.

"Just follow the directions."

Kings of Leon plays quietly in the background, slow and redolent. She flips to another page.

Across the room, Brittany eyes the eggs warily.

"There's so many directions." She mumbles. The prospect of cookies lies in a maze of flour and chocolate chips and plastic measuring devices with letters too small to read. She squints at the package with the instructions. "How does it make cookies?" She asks, louder, but Santana doesn't answer. A quick glance into the living room reveals an abandoned couch, the pages of a forgotten magazine flipping over each other. "Santana?"

Brittany frowns.

Behind her, the garage door bumps open, and San comes in carrying an armful of premade cookie dough.

"Here." The plastic container hits the counter with a thud and Santana smirks, eyes twinkling. "Let's do this the easy way." Brittany hesitates for a moment, torn between, like, cookie dough, and the whole baking competition thing they're supposed to be having with the boys.

"Is that cheating?" Brittany asks. Santana's high on her toes, reaching above her head for a cookie sheet, and she doesn't look back.

"Whatever, this whole thing is stupid anyway."

"But the boys-" Brittany starts to respond.

"Who cares about the boys?" Santana says, the sheet clattering like a warning on the tiled counter.

"I like the boys." Brittany says. When Santana doesn't respond, Brittany glances up to find her staring, her expression indecipherable. That aching tension starts to stir between them, like a pull and a push and the gentle sweep of fingers along bare skin. Brittany takes a step forward, hand trailing on the counter, but Santana doesn't relent. She steps aside, running a hand across her eyes.

"I'm gonna go shower."

Brittany is pretty sure that this time, it's not an invitation.


Santana is thirteen and she loves The O.C. like whoa. She just got her braces off, adores this soft pink Hollister polo her best friend bought for her, likes to go to the movies late on Friday night and hold hands with boys who sloppily kiss her neck. And Trey Burnside asked her to the dance yesterday, like really asked, with flowers and all, and these are stepping stones, she's figuring out, that add up to more than they seem. Right now, though, Quinn Fabray has her cornered against the damp back wall of the girls' locker room and Santana feels like she's about five.

"She just doesn't have what it takes." Quinn says, her hands placed decisively on her hips.

"She's been doing gymnastics and dance since she was three." Santana mumbles quietly, her eyes darting down to the tiled floor. Her left shoe is untied. She's never had to face this kind of attack.

"Santana, she's-" Quinn pauses for effect. "…stupid."

Santana's eyes dart up furiously, an instinctive reaction, and her mouth narrows into a dangerous line.

"Just because she's not, like, a genius or anything doesn't mean she's stupid." Santana spits back before she can stop herself. Her eyes widen once the words have left her mouth but Quinn's expression doesn't change. There's a long beat of tension that spreads between them, tension that curls inside of Santana's stomach.

"Okay." Quinn says, reaching up to tuck a strand of blonde hair behind her ear. "She can stay. She better not screw up our routines, though."

"She won't." Santana promises, but it sounds a bit like a threat. Quinn is already turning away, and Santana's heart is thudding painfully in her chest. When Quinn has disappeared and she hears the door swing shut, she slumps back against cool metal.

For a long time, she just stares pointlessly at the dented locker across from her.


It's steaming hot out the last week of summer before their freshmen year, and cheerleading tryouts turn into the eighth circle of hell. They stretch on the hot turf, Brittany laying out on the rubber grass and Santana kneeling over her, a short reprieve from the incessant tumbling and Sue's megaphone of doom.

Brittany's leg rests comfortably on Santana's right shoulder and Santana strains forward, one hand on either side of her best friend's head. Brittany lets out a little grunt that puffs against Santana's neck, her lips dangerously close to Santana's face, and Santana, aching with this rythmn of give and take, of bold and terrified, of skin on skin without the acknowledgement she's craving, just lets her eyes slip shut for a second. Like this is real. Like this is even a possibility.

"Are you tired?" Brittany asks, a little breathless, the words close to Santana's ear. Sanatana feels Brittany's knee crook, and the blonde's heel relaxes against Santana's tense back.

"What?" Santana eyes flicker open, her voice sharp. She sits back on her heels for better balance and reaches up to steady Brittany's leg with her hand, fingers curling over and under her knee. Brittany stares up at her, blonde hair glinting in the sunny glare.

It's disconcerting to want nothing more than your best friend's legs wrapped around your waist, hands wandering, mouths hot, that relief of absolution-

Santana blinks.

"You keep closing your eyes." Brittany says, tensing her calf. Santana can feel the muscles clench through the thin fabric of her t-shirt before Brittany moves her leg, skin sliding out from under Santana's grasp. Santana stands up abruptly, still a little dazed by the unrelenting lust that pounds through her veins, that blends with the flush from the afternoon heat. She puts her hands on her hips.

"I'm fine." Santana says. She turns away. Sue sits motionless in a towering chair across the field. Quinn, stretching next to them, has that far away, determined glint in her eye.

When she turns back, Brittany is stretching beside her, bending down the wrap her hands around her ankles. She tilts her head up and looks at Santana from beneath her bangs.

"They grow plastic grass at my brother's school." She says, looking down at the yellowing grass beneath their feet. Santana rolls her eyes, bending to match Brittany's form.

"It's called astroturf, Britt. They make it in a factory." Brittany turns her head- and her face is too close even though it's like they've always been, and it always used to be fine until it suddenly wasn't.

A whistle blows and a grin breaks out on Brittany's face almost immediately. Suddenly, her smile isn't centimeters from Santana's anymore and Santana blinks twice before straightening up slowly, her eyes intent on the blonde girl who's jogging away from her.

It must be the heat or nerves or something, but right now Brittany looks like the best thing that ever happened to her.


"You fucking wish." Santana says, her finger jabbed directly into football player #1's thick chest. "Maybe in your pathetic dreams." The guy shrugs, spreading his arms wide.

"How would you know? The girl's got, like, the memory of a goldfish. She probably forgot." His buddies laugh and Santana whirls on them as well, her cheerleading skirt spinning dramatically around her legs.

She pauses.

She has to remember to take a deep breath, to reel in the anger that's spinning in her head. Sue says anger is fear, and fear is weakness. And Sue may not be all that reliable on a lot of things, but she wrote the book on intimidation. Santana can't quite get the glare off her face but her voice is steady when she starts to speak.

"If I ever hear you talking about her again-" She takes a step closer to football player #2 and presses one finely manicured nail into his shoulder. The mean glint in her eyes is turning dangerous. "I'm going to make sure no cheerleader on this squad, the JV squad, or the freshmen squad will ever come near you or those veiny tree trunks you call arms ever again."

With a single disdainful look shot toward the rest of the group, she turns and struts away.

It's not perfect, she knows, but she's working on it.


The world is spinning dangerously before her eyes even though her body feels like deadweight, like it's been melted into the soft sheets on the bed. She shuts her eyes but it just makes her feel like she's falling, spinning, flying.


All the lights in the room are still on. She runs her hand down her sweat-slicked bare skin, reaching for discarded sheets, giving in to the constant swirl. A tiny, tipsy smile curls on her face.

"Brit?" She asks, starting to roll on her side. That spin that seems to start behind her eyes makes her stop and she swallows thickly, blinking in the golden light. Laying down was maybe not a good idea. Slowly, so slowly, she finishes her turn with her eyes closed.

"Here." The other girl answers, and Santana feels a warm hand slide across her stomach, turning her insides into a coil of warmth and uncomfortable need.

"Fuck." Santana groans quietly, opening her eyes. Brittany's face swims in front of her, there but unreal, concrete but blurry, a beautiful mess to her uncomprehending eyes. She reaches forward with fumbling fingers that Brittany catches, draws closer.

"What?" Brittany says, moving forward. She pushes Santana's unruly hair back behind her ear. Their bare legs touch, slide, tangle. Santana's body is held hostage by a combination of tequila, Corona, and heat-fueled sex in the damp Mexican weather and god, she's in love with this feeling. She closes her eyes again. Brittany's hands are warm along her side, dancing up her ribcage, casually cupping her breasts.

Santana's eyes open.

"Puck told me about this last night," Brittany is saying as she kneels over Santana, leaving messy kisses against her neck. Her hands catch Santana's, tongue running a creative path southward, and once Santana is somewhat coherent her breath catches because Brittany- Brittany, the girl who used to bring Santana muffins at lunch in third grade, who broke her arm trying to balance on one hand like she'd seen in Star Wars, who rescued a bird in the parking lot and forgot it in her locker, her best friend Brittany- has her head between Santana's legs and is licking so earnestly that Santana feels like she might fall apart at the seams. May just tumble into a mess of heart and heat and sex and adoration, all pulled apart by Brittany's wet mouth against her- oh god, warm hands strong and firm on her thighs.

Her fingers tangle in the sheets, Brittany's mouth there, tongue slipping down and back up, until her eyes close of their own volition. God, it doesn't take long at all before Santana's arching up against Brit, toes curling, coming hard against her best friend's mouth. She keeps saying something, over and over like a promise, but she's too drunk to hear what her own mouth is muttering.

When she comes down the world is spinning dangerously and she reaches out for Brittany, fingers skimming over familiar skin that has become brand new. Fuck, there's so much more of it, just soft and bare as far as her hand travels. She rolls over and it takes an effort to open her eyes, but then she can tangle her fingers in Brittany's hair and she pulls her close, kisses her hot and hard.

She doesn't understand the way her heart aches when Brittany wraps an arm around her waist and pulls her closer.


"You don't know what you're talking about." Santana's hands are firm against Puck's chest and she pushes- shoves him backwards onto the bed. She tucks her fingers under the edge of her blouse, stepping out of her sandals.

"I've known her as long as you have." Puck says, reaching out to hook his fingers in the waist of her skirt once she's tossed her blouse into a chair. He pulls until she's pressed between his legs and kisses her lazily, fingers flexing between cotton and skin, his other hand working the clasp of her bra. She pulls back, a little breathless, and reaches down to fumble with the buttons on his jeans

"I'm fucking sick of everyone thinking she doesn't know what's going on. She just-" Santana is tired of this subject already, and she follows Puck's backwards crawl onto the bed, lets him roll her over onto her back. His hands are traveling up her skirt, his mouth in her hair, and she arches upward against his chest, fingers curving in the small of his back.

"You're right." Puck says, then drags his teeth across her ear in that way that makes her practically keen. Her nails press hard into his shoulders, almost too hard. "You know her better than anyone else." He murmurs. A flash of Brittany's flushed face, eyelashes fluttering against her cheeks, surfaces in Santana's mind. She whimpers, a little, and feels Puck grind closer to her in response. It's so wrong, but it's there.

"God, she-" Puck's fingers have moved up against her underwear, though, and she loses her thoughts. She's left with Brittany's image in her mind, her bare, tanned legs stretching out against white sheets, blonde hair a mess against the pillow. Santana leaves her eyes shut tight and rolls her hips into Puck's touch, his fingers pressing perfectly against her, rubbing and sliding and she's thinking about Brittany again, her muscles tight and unforgiving.

Later, when Santana's smoothing the wrinkles out of her blouse, Puck tilts his head back against the headboard and leers at her.

"Whenever we talk about her, you always-"

"I don't want to talk about her." Santana says. She can picture the smirk on Puck's face and she doesn't bother turning around to witness it firsthand. Knowing it's there is enough to royally piss her off. She slips one foot into a high heel, fingers curled beneath the back strap.

"You know she and Mike have been screwing around." Puck tells her. Santana doesn't know why she lets him talk at all.

"And I care, because?" Santana turns back to him, one eyebrow raised in a disinterested fashion. She slides on her other heel, then picks up her purse. Puck doesn't answer, just studies her, and she leaves without looking back.

Sometimes she wonders if she really needs this at all.


Santana swipes a hand over the fogged up mirror, revealing her flushed cheeks and bright eyes. Her fingers tighten on the towel wrapped loosely around her body and she uses the fingers of her other hand to tug through her wet, tangled hair. She thinks about Brittany downstairs, and she watches her expression in the mirror, the way her eyes go blank and the corners of her mouth tighten.

She doesn't like the way this feeling looks on her,

Pulling the damp towel closer to her skin, she steps out of the bathroom and hesitates. Her room is cool, her skin still hot to the touch, and she shivers, then curses softly in Spanish. She finds a worn pair of sweatpants and a soft tee and slips them on, then yanks her bedroom door open and calls down the stairs.

"Brit! Come here!"

Santana feels stupid but she's been feeling that way for weeks now. She feels lonely, and she can't remember when she didn't. Brittany sounds like a damn bull thundering up the stairs and Santana wants to smile. She really wants to smile.

"Yeah." Brittany says, swinging into the room breathlessly. She has flour smeared on her nose and in her hair and chocolate melting on her Cheerios uniform. Santana shakes her head, envisioning the wreck that the kitchen must be. A pained smirk makes it way onto her mouth. She doesn't say anything, just rubs the flour away with her thumb and threads her fingers into Brittany's dusty hair.

"Do you want me?" Santana makes it sound like a statement, like the answer doesn't matter either way. The question's so quiet, though, and her eyes won't leave Brittany's.

"Yes." Brittany answers. Her hands slip around Santana's waist but she doesn't push or pull or ask for anything at all. There must be something in Santana's gaze, though, because she repeats her answer, quieter this time. Santana moves closer.

Santana just wants to be held, wants assurance that doesn't involve giving away pieces of herself, and she has no idea how to ask for any of it. So she kisses Brittany like she means it, and wraps both hands around the back of Brittany's neck, pushing their bodies together. This is the easy part. Santana's hands follow a choreographed path, working the zipper of Brittany's uniform, the curves relentlessly familiar beneath her hands. She moves back to let Brittany slide out of them and the back of her legs hit her bed.

She sits and watches. Her heart doesn't seem to be in this.

Brittany notices, or seems to, and she hesitates. Her uniform is a crumpled mess in the middle of Santana's bedroom and she's half-naked, but she just waits.

Santana pushes up on her arms and moves back into the middle of the bed. She props herself up with her arms and smiles, inviting, because she's Brittany, even if she's making Santana ache like this is all wrong.

Brittany crawls on the bed, like a hundred times before, and rests her weight on top of Santana. Any other time, Santana would roll them over, brush her lips against Brittany's neck, mutter a mix of Spanish and English in the girl's ear. Tonight, she just looks.

"San…" Brittany says, her face close enough that her lips brush Santana's chin.

"Will you-", Santana starts strong, but the words die in her throat. She shifts her legs, tangling them with Brittany's, and her hands go to the girl's face. The question is right there, thick in her mouth, but she doesn't think she'll ever let it out. Her heart's beating that odd tattoo it always does when Brittany is this close. Brittany's fingers slide down the sides of her t-shirt. Santana tenses. "Just hold me." She says quietly, like a command.

Brittany just smiles. Smiles like maybe she doesn't get it, or maybe she always got it, and dips her head into the curve of Santana's neck. She slides her arms around Santana and rolls onto her side, pulling Santana with her.

"Okay." Brittany says, scooting closer on the comforter, sliding her legs between Santana's. She settles once they're all wrapped up in each other, noses almost brushing.

Santana's heart thuds painfully and she swallows, trying to erase the threat of tears. She buries her face in Brittany's neck and takes a shaky breath.

Downstairs, the smoke detector starts to go off.


Santana reaches blindly for Brittany's fingers, hooks her pinky with the other girl's, and goes back to her conversation with Quinn on the issues of wearing gladiator sandals with jeans. Next to her, Brittany's listening intently as Tina explains the concept behind wheelchair basketball. Santana, almost unconsciously, fans her fingers out and runs the backs across Brittany's knuckles.

She hasn't met up with Puck in a week. That doesn't mean they're, like, done, or whatever. It doesn't mean anything, except she's been busy and Brittany has been- Brittany and most of the time she doesn't want to do anything that doesn't involve her best friend.

At the front of the room, Mr. Shue calls out to the class, setting down the sheet music he's been scribbling on for the past ten minutes. Everyone, except for Rachel, who appears to be lecturing Finn on the benefits of a caffeine-free diet, looks up. He smiles and starts some stupid speech on acceptance. Santana stops listening somewhere before the fourth syllable, like she does at every Glee Club practice.

Beside her, Brittany laces her fingers backwards between Santana's and Santana just barely holds back the smirk that threatens to curve on her mouth.

It's not perfect, she knows, but she's working on it.

Thanks for reading!