through the bars of a rhyme

"I've realized why I'm such a bitch all the time. It's because I'm angry. And I'm angry because I have all of these feelings— feelings for you – that I'm afraid of dealing with, because I'm afraid of dealing with the consequences."

Santana glared at her reflection and bared her teeth in a sneer, her eyes flashing under the fluorescent lights. They looked a little dead, a little angry, and she stepped back with her hands on her hips, her Cheerios skirt twirling against the movement. The glare on the yellow tiles made her skin look even darker than it was.

Her eyes narrowed.

One hand hit the swinging bathroom door hard. Two feet beat ominously down the empty school corridor. She was pissed, yeah, but she was even more focused. The auditorium doors stood wide open before her, gaping like the entrance to a monumental black hole. She strutted through, straight down the aisle, her Cheerio skirt whipping Artie in the face on accident, and stormed up the steps.

Her fingers closed over the microphone and she saw Mr. Shue stumble off the stage out of the corner of her eye. Her eyes narrowed on the Glee kids in front of her and suddenly, she grinned. She was, at once, almost sensual and almost feral. "Hit it." She tossed over her shoulder to the band. The drummer tapped his cymbal once and Santana rolled into the song.

"You hit me once, I hit you back. You gave a kick, I gave a slap. You smashed a plate over my head…" She drew the note out, a smirk blooming on her face. "…then I set fire to our bed."

The drums kicked in hard, flawlessly on beat, and the guitar crunch trailed just after and she let go from there, her feet recognizing the beat, her voice at the mercy of the melody. The music spun her in a sensual, aggressive circle and she sang at her audience, the lyrics coming from some place deeper than she cared to fathom. Her fingers pulled the mic stand to and fro, her hips swinging. The threat of the song was in her intensity, in her glare, in the emptiness on her face.

The last note trailed off like a groan and she was standing back where she had started, fingertips trailing against the microphone. The auditorium was silent. She was out of breath and her quiet pants echoed in the stunned quiet. Sam blinked twice, staring at his girlfriend with wide eyes. Rachel had one hand over her heart, and there was a wetness that looked suspiciously like tears in her eyes. Finally, Puck broke the collective trance, shooting to his feet, hands applauding wildly.

"Hell yeah!" He cried, his voice cracking somewhere in the middle, though the blunder was mercifully ignored by the rest of Glee Club. They made it to their feet and erupted in a mixture of cat calls and hollering. Santana's face broke out into a small smile. She stepped off the stage and shrugged a little, a blush creeping up her neck.

"Thank you, thank you." She grinned, and then rolled her eyes. "Really. Please stop." Mr. Shue clapped his hand on her shoulder, his grin threatening to split his face wide open.

"Well, that was a heck of an opening number for this assignment." He was almost beside himself as he addressed the group, and her squeezed Santana's shoulder reflexively. Santana, half-embarrassed, half-proud, slipped out from under his hold and hurried down the aisle, launching herself into Sam's arms and accepting a celebratory kiss from the boy.

"That was so hot." Sam said, tightening his hold on her waist.

"Thanks, babe." Santana grinned back and leaned forward to give him another affectionate kiss before sliding off into the seat beside him. Rachel, half a row down, shot her a dorky pair of thumbs up. Santana rolled her eyes, but couldn't help her smile, and mouthed a warm 'thank you' to the girl.

Mr. Shue droned on. Mike and Tina whispered quietly in the back row. Rachel and Quinn alternated between glaring at each other and staring pathetically at Finn, who had snagged a seat next to Puck. He was sneaking glances at Lauren, who was thoroughly engrossed in her Gameboy. Mercedes, Artie, and Kurt reluctantly listened to Mr. Shue from the front row.

Santana, still reveling in the afterglow of a performance, snuggled closer to Sam, her eyes sparkling.

Sam's room was quiet, save the humming of his xbox, and the lights were on dim. It was traditional post-Friday night Breadstix hooking up time, but, as usual, Santana only lasted a half hour before getting bored with the whole situation and slowly but surely bringing things down a notch. Her shirt was back on, his shirt was back on, and they were cuddling chastely on his bed. Santana pretended that she couldn't feel him against her. She also pretended that it didn't bother her more than it should have.

"Your song was amazing." Sam said, curled up behind her on his blue-striped bedcover. His palm rested on her stomach and he pulled her closer. "I've never seen you be so…bitchy." Santana laughed and slapped at his hand.

"Just wait." She threatened, threading her fingers between his, before squeezing and pulling away. "You haven't seen me angry yet." She sat up on the edge of his bed, trying to ignore the uncomfortable feeling of being trapped that was aching straight between her bones. She bent down and started pulling on her boots. Behind her, Sam was still smiling.

"Nah. Hey, you want to watch that new episode of The Walking Dead before you leave?" He asked, sitting up straight. An amused smile curved on Santana's face.

"Tomorrow." She said, standing up and straightening out her skintight dress. She bent over and kissed Sam almost indecently, her fingers twisting in his shirt. There was a slight hum in her stomach, but nothing that made her feel like she needed him.

She pulled back.

"I'll see you tomorrow?" He said. His eyes were a bit glazed.

"Yeah, I've got to go to my little brother's soccer game, but I'll come over afterwards." She promised, letting go of his now wrinkled shirt and heading for the door.

Quinn called her before she got out of the house.

"Hey, Q." Santana answered, slipping out of Sam's front door and taking the steps carefully in her three inch heels.

"Manhands is at it again." The cheerleader grumbled into the phone. Santana recognized her tone almost immediately. "You know, at this point, I could care less about that stupid man-giant, but she just wants him so much." Quinn blew a breath of air out. "It's exhausting."

"Let her have him." Santana threw out, sliding into her dark red convertible. "He's an idiot, anyway, to even contemplate choosing her over you. There are plenty of other guys at McKinley." Quinn didn't respond, but her unspoken words held heavy over them anyway. Yeah, but none of them are captain of the football team. "Get dressed." Santana backed out of Sam's driveway without even thinking about it, swerving toward the Fabrays'. "We're going to go do something stupid and forget about dumb football players." Santana knew her best friend and she could practically hear the little smile she had on her face.

"Alright." Quinn said, and they exchanged quick goodbyes before hanging up. Santana slid to stop at a sign a few houses down from Sam's and was surprised to see a moving truck parked down the street. She tilted her head and finally took a right, itching to satisfy her curiosity.

They were all blonde and tall and tired, lugging boxes across an expansive front lawn. She was tall, lean, and blonde and Satana barely caught a glimpse of her as she bounced down the steps , but it was enough to make her pause. She looked about Santana's age, her hair braided behind her head. Santana stared but then the moving truck was between them and she was too far away to see anymore.

It piqued her interest, though, and she'd probably deny it but she spent the rest of the drive wondering who the family was.

8 am was way too early to get up on a weekend. Her parents insisted, though, and her little brother gave her this pathetic pout, so she found herself dragging her butt out of bed and into the shower hours before she normally would. Her mother must have sensed the animosity oozing out of her pores, because she handed Santana a cup of hot coffee as she shuffled her into the car. Santana's brother, Armando, grinned up at her, his tiny soccer socks sliding down his legs, and Santana couldn't help but be a little charmed.

The weather was already warming up by the time they reached the field, Lima's spring in full effect. Armando ran out to join a bunch of other kids sporting the same slightly-too-big uniform he was. Santana helped her mom set up a couple chairs and wandered off when her phone buzzed with a text message.

You and sam going to see Rocky Horror with me and mike tonight? Tina asked. Santana sent back a quick affirmative and turned back toward the field at the sound of a whistle, only to run straight into someone. Her phone tumbled to the ground.

"Oh, I'm sorry." The girl mumbled, her blonde hair flashing in the sunlight when she bent to retrieve Santana's phone.

"It's fine." Santana said, reaching out to grab the proffered phone. She had to tilt her head back a little to look into the other girl's face. Their eyes met and Santana got an odd sense of familiarity before the girl's gaze dropped right back to the ground. She started to walk away and Santana had the weirdest desperation to keep talking to her, but nothing came to mind and the moment passed. The blonde girl, eyes still glued to the ground somewhere in front of her, trudged away, and Santana found that she couldn't take her eyes off of her.

It took about a quarter and a half of what Santana's father called "ant-hill futbol", before Santana finally remembered where she had seen the blonde girl: moving boxes into the house in Sam's neighborhood. She literally sat up with the sudden shock of the knowledge and her mother looked over, concerned.

"Hija?" She asked, but Santana shook her off, her gaze darting back to the concession stand where she had last seen the girl. Sure enough, she was biting into a corndog, oblivious to the stares of the two prepubescent boys working the stand, and staring intently at the field.

Santana thought, for a few long, indecisive moments, of going over and introducing herself, finding out her name, but eventually dismissed the incentive as stalker-ish. That realization didn't keep her from following the girl's every move from behind her oversized sunglasses, though, her eyes trailing her about the field.

When the game ended and a rush of crying, exhilarated, dirty third-graders came stampeding toward their parents, Santana lost the blonde girl in the crowd. She bit her lip, oddly disappointed, but turned to give Armando a celebratory noogie.

The weekend passed slowly. Most of it she spent with Sam or Quinn, or facebooking with the other Cheerios and Gleeks. She dedicated six hours to studying and homework. She was determined, despite some outward appearances, to get the hell out of Lima, Ohio, no matter what. Her 4.0 GPA, varied extracurricular activities, and the afternoons she spent candy-striping would make sure of that.

She spent the rest of it laying around listening to the new Adele record and catching up on Grey's Anatomy. She kicked the soccer ball around with Armando a few times, although it only reminded her of how awkward she was at sports that involved balls, and she even offered to help her mother cook- twice – which resulted in some serious concern.

In truth, she was trying to stop thinking about the obnoxiously tall blonde family that had moved in down the street from Sam, exactly one neighborhood over from Santana. More specifically, the obnoxiously tall blonde girl who was part of that family, and who had also managed to run directly into Santana and send her entire weekend off balance.

On Sunday night, the clouds thundered and rain poured endlessly from the sky. Santana sat in her room and played old Britney albums, her history books laid out and highlighted in front of her. When it was finally time for sleep, she burrowed under the covers and tried to pretend she could actually stop thinking about the new girl and her new girl shyness and the way she had looked right in Santana's eyes for a moment.

She pretended, mind you. She didn't actually do it.

The sky opened up the night before her first day. Brittany lay in her brand new bedroom, on her brand new bed, staring up out of the skylight. The rain was falling on her, but not hitting her. Her cat hopped up, settled carefully on her ankles, and promptly fell asleep.

"Okay, Sharpie, but only because you helped me name the house." Brittany compromised, her voice barely a whisper. The sound knocked around her big white walls and fell back on her ears. She turned her face into her pillow, staring at the soft black numbers on the clock by her bed. She shut her eyes.

In the morning, the rain was still falling. Or maybe it had started back up again. Brittany opened her eyes to grey sky and a gentle tapping, and promptly shut them again. She contemplated making up an excuse to get out of school, but after the last "bamboo flu" fiasco it seemed too risky. Besides, she could totally wear her duck rain boots today.

It took a little cajoling, a lot of Sunny D, and her little sister's hand, but she finally convinced herself to get in her mother's car and take the short drive to school. When she stumbled out of the passenger seat, all of sixteen years old and tall and lanky and terrified, she turned back to her mother for a split second, biting back the urge to flee. The woman was already pulling away, though, weaving back into traffic. Brittany's eyes widened desperately.

Across the parking lot, a dark red, dirty convertible rumbled to an old hip hop song. The beat was familiar. Brittany, quickly and thankfully distracted, squinted at the car. The music stopped, suddenly, the door opened, and a girl just as slick and dark as the convertible and almost as familiar as the beat stepped out.

Brittany stared.

Three seconds later she was promptly slushied in the face.

"Nice boots." Rang out from someone passing her, a shoulder bumping into her roughly.

"Welcome to McKinley!"

Brittany blinked, neon red slushy dripping down her neck.