The day had darkened with the onset of rain. Outside, great towers of dark clouds rolled across the sky. Inside, Santana's desk lamp lit the room with a warm glow. She was leaning against the window frame with her arms folded tight. The sky refused to rain. She refused to cry.

They both seemed to be locked in a battle against the inevitable.

Her mouth was still soft from Brittany's kisses. She licked her lips, trying to erase the feeling, but it just settled hard in her chest.

This wasn't- it shouldn't be a thing to cry about.

She sat down on the edge of her bed and caught a glimpse of her pathetic expression in the mirror before falling backwards and landing softly on the comforter. The sheets were still tangled from the night before.

"I'm glad I met you."

Every inch of her body was worn out, exhausted, tired and angry, and buzzing with excitement. The uncomfortable, tapping nerves beneath her skin were making her head spin.

She had kissed Brittany.

Well, Brittany had kissed her, really, and she had kind of kissed back. Okay, she had kissed back. She had been surprised and, admittedly, kind of curious, and she had given into the idea in for a moment, let Brittany do whatever she wanted.

She knew that wasn't true, okay? She could still feel the curl of arousal at the bottom of her stomach, but the awful fear and shame had practically smothered it to death. She knew what had happened- it was painted in the flush in her skin and in the way her heart leapt when she thought about Brittany's hands in her hair. It wasn't doing her any good, though. She shut her eyes.

She felt like she was going to throw up, the fear heavy and liquid in her belly.

Brittany had kissed her and she had kissed back and that was it, something weird and experimental that they didn't have to talk about, something stupid between them that didn't have to be anything she didn't want it to be- Brittany wasn't- she couldn't be-

Santana's fingers brushed her lips before her brain had time to process it and when she realized what she was doing, she dropped her hand instantly. Was Brittany…and did she think Santana was, too?

She lay there for a long time, staring up at her ceiling and playing the kiss over and over again in her head. The heat of Brittany's hand on her thigh, the way she tasted like her Dr. Pepper lip gloss, the bolt of terror or exhilaration that had sent her head spinning with adrenaline when she realized what was about to happen.

She thought about the moment Brittany pulled away, sliding her fingers out of Santana's hair, and the way her smile was honest and open but there was something tantalizing in her gaze and in the flush on her cheeks. Santana hadn't been able to smile back and Brittany had stepped out of the car unsurely, staring when Santana waved half-heartedly and rolled out of the driveway.

She sat up, reaching for her phone, suddenly desperate to hear Brittany's voice- and not entirely sure what she planned to say to her except for: it didn't happen. When she swiped her finger across the screen, though, Brittany's name was already sitting there, waiting.

This weekend was really fun. The last part was my favorite. :)

She took the five steps to the bathroom, her knees hitting the tiles hard, and this time she really did throw up.

The next morning was damp and cool, and the air seemed soggy with the rain from last night. Santana woke up in the same clothes she'd been wearing the night before. Dragging herself out of bed and into the shower was a feat she didn't want to relive, but she managed somehow, blinking her eyes sleepily under the warm spray.

She felt better. Like maybe yesterday hadn't actually happened. The fear had settled like a familiar weight on her shoulders, cool and distant. It was the fear that someone would find out, that her parents would know, that she would forever be labeled as 'different'. And not in the way she had always planned.

She had homework to do and Facebook to stalk and she pushed Brittany into the back of her head and settled in at her desk.

She was halfway through her Biology Lab report when her phone dinged. She slid the screen without looking- vaguely remembering Quinn's drama two nights ago- but it was Brittany. Santana stared down at her suddenly traitorous iPhone.

Hey, want to go 2 the park later?

She hated feeling like this, like her skin didn't belong to her, like her heart had swollen three sizes and was threatening to float up and out of her body. She hated wanting this the way she did because the implications of it were terrifying. The shame hadn't been there last week but now a name for the way she leaned into Brittany, searching for her touch, was floating in the back of her mind and the fear spiked straight to the bone.

Can't. Have to finish my homework.

She tapped out her answer and then sat and stared at the screen without sending it.

Finally, she erased the whole thing and tossed her phone back onto her bed. It lay there, practically taunting her for the next hour, and when it dinged again she forced herself to ignore it. She knew it was wrong- cruel, even, to ignore Brittany after what had happened but, god, she had kissed her. She remembered the evening before and how desperate to rid herself of the feeling she had been, the way it sunk into her skin like a brand.

She ventured downstairs a little before noon when her stomach refused to quit its insistent grumbling. Her dad was blinking tiredly at a pan full of vegetables while her mother folded clothes in the living room, singing quietly to herself as she did. For a second, the knowledge that she had kissed Brittany flared up inside her once again, hot and awkward, but then died out just as quickly. It became background noise, a private little shame that her feel uncomfortable when she hopped up on the island and watched her dad sway back and forth to her mother's voice.

"Buenos dias, Santana." He set the pan down and turned toward her, swinging his hips a little in a weird dance. Santana pushed away the smile that threatened to creep onto her face and lifted an eyebrow instead.

"Hola." The apathy dripped off her tone. He walked to the fridge and began sifting through the vegetables, setting a few on the counter.

"How are you this morning, my dear?" His Puerto Rican accent was showing in a way he only allowed at home. She was feeling guilty and mean and a lot of other words she just snowballed into upset. He looked at her, his eyes narrowing with every second she couldn't answer.


She hopped down off the counter and left, her appetite suddenly gone.

Her phone dinged for the fifth time in the past hour and she sighed but finally reached for it. Swimming in that familiar river of denial was wearing her out and maybe she wanted to see what Brittany had said, so what? That didn't mean she was- that she had liked it. That she had liked it anymore than a normal person would. Brittany's name shone in the blue of her screen. She clicked through to her messages. One from Quinn, one from Tina, and four from Brittany. One missed call from Quinn, as well.

Seeing their familiar names made it all too clear that she didn't feel like talking to anyone. She slid to Brittany's messages first.

Lord Tubbington ate our art project. What are we going to do…

I guess your studying, ttyl.

By the way I forgot my cat toy in ur car. Maybe you could drop it off later?

And then, hours after the other three:

Are u okay?

Santana stared at the words and an idea began to crystallize in her mind. The kiss didn't belong to her- it was Brittany's as much as it was hers. It was tied between them. And Brittany could- she could say whatever she wanted and-

Santana was hitting the call key before she could stop herself, Brittany's words burnt like a light behind her eyes. Are u okay? No, she wasn't fucking okay. The line rang once, twice, and then Santana swiped quickly against the end button and tossed the phone back onto her bed. Her heart was thumping uncomfortably and she shut her eyes tight, pressing her palms against her forehead. She was so scared and she hated it, hated the way it made her feel like she wasn't herself.

A few seconds later, her screen lit up and Brittany's familiar ringtone blasted out. She stared stupidly for a second before walking robotically back to the bed and scooping her phone into her hands. She took a deep breath. She shifted her hand to answer, but she couldn't do it.

She couldn't move.

Missed Call flashed onto the screen.

Monday was awful.

She skipped early morning practice and first period and spent both of them in a McDonald's parking lot, drinking too much black coffee and texting Puck. He was making her laugh and that was something, even if his messages were unrelentingly vulgar. Her car rumbled into the parking lot a little before nine and she breezed past Figgins with a forced, flirty wink. He turned an unattractive bright red and stumbled down the hall, but he didn't give her detention.

She managed to get through three classes and a barrage of questions from Quinn- which she dodged with a swift: "And what exactly happened at Puck's Friday night?"- before she saw Brittany. She was stuffing her books into her messy locker when a splash of blonde hair and a familiar smile appeared at her side. She didn't turn around, even though she could smell Brittany's perfume and see her smile falter from the corner of her eye. Brittany hesitated, and Santana's whole body was tense.

"Hey, what happened to you this weekend?" The words weren't as light as Brittany meant them to be. Santana finally turned and when she looked at Brittany- really looked at her –everything she had been fighting all weekend came spilling back to her. Her grip on her books tightened and when Brittany reached out, a pinky subtly offered, the feelings, hard and scared and angry, filled up her gaze. Brittany must have seen it in her eyes, because her smile slid away and her shoulders slumped down.

"Oh." Her voice was barely a whisper and it was drowned out by the crowd, but Santana imagined she could hear Brittany- the hurt in her voice must have matched the awful look on her face. She pulled her pinky back and it broke Santana's heart, right there in the middle of the McKinley hallway, their matching uniforms bright under the glare of the florescent, Brittany staring hopelessly at her like the scene was suddenly going to change. It really hurt her for the first time in her life, tight under her ribs, like she couldn't breathe.

Santana wimped out first, like- god, like she did every time Brittany made her feel something she didn't want to- and turned back to her locker. She shut it with a final click and looked down at the books in her arms. When she finally lifted her gaze, Brittany was nowhere to be found. The sharp spike of tears threatened in her eyes, but Santana just glared and walked away from her locker.

If her shoulder found some freshmen's with enough force to knock him over, well then, so be it.

She skipped glee practice that afternoon and actually found herself looking forward to Rachel's rant. She already had a slew of insults on the tip of her tongue, ready to lash out the moment the girl walked up.

For now, though, she walked outside with the final bell and went home to spend the evening staring at her phone like it was going to forgive her for the venom in her heart and in the back of her mouth.

Tuesday was the same.

She showed up half an hour early to practice in the morning and ran an extra five miles for missing the day before, complained of a stomach ache and skipped out before anyone else showed up, then hid in the Cheerios longue until the second bell rang. The hiding was getting easier but Brittany seemed to appear wherever Santana went. She was at every turn, in every almost empty bathroom, fixing her hair in the otherwise deserted locker room. The uncomfortable ache in Santana's chest grew every time they ran into each other and Brittany simply walked away. For the first time in her life, she spent her lunch hour out in the parking lot with her back against her convertible, scared of the off-chance that Brittany might to sit at the Cheerios table.

When their eyes met across the hall, Brittany looked away first, every single time, and it made Santana feel small and inconsequential. They had become best friends in less than three weeks and had reverted to strangers in the span of three minutes.

Tuesday afternoon she forced herself to go to Cheerios practice, lest Coach Sylvester actually take one of her crucial organs. She changed silently next to Brittany, her back to the other Cheerio, and when she turned to leave she caught of glimpse of perfect bare skin that made her hot with shame. She ran it off, leading the pack at a killer pace around the track, every burning flash of anger propelling her further down the tar. They finally stopped to stretch, Coach's screams falling on conditioned ears. Santana, sweat dripping down her forehead to land on her tennis shoe, looked up to see Quinn staring. Her immediate thought was to look away but she had taught herself better than that years ago. She didn't back down from the other girl's gaze until Coach ordered them onto the field.

It didn't surprise her when Quinn caught her by her car after practice. She had skipped a shower in the hopes of avoiding her captain, but Quinn must have seen it coming because she was leaning casually against Santana's ride when she limped her way into the parking lot.

Fuck. Santana thought, and steeled herself.

"I think four days of silence is more than enough, don't you?" Quinn's eyes, almost always frosty, were nearing arctic. Santana paused, shifting the shoulder strap of her Cheerios bag, regarding Quinn silently for a moment. She seemed unbelievably familiar because Santana had been avoiding her for the past four days. She was Santana's best friend and they'd never kept anything from each other- it had always been Santana and Quinn against the world, even when they were at each other's throats, even when they were clawing desperately for the same things. They'd always had each others' backs. Santana didn't know anything else.

Finally, she relaxed.

"Get in. I'll give you a ride home."

Quinn smirked.

They sat on Quinn's back porch, sipping on Mrs. Fabray's sugarless iced raspberry tea. Santana was painfully uncomfortable, as she always was at the Fabrays'. Its suffocating formality had lessened considerably since Russell Fabray had ran off with his secretary, but Judy Fabray's resulting downward spiral had pushed the sadness in the house to awful levels.

Santana stared at the perfectly clipped back lawn and thought back to when they were kids and Quinn's backyard was the equivalent of a stage, grand and endless and a safe haven for them.

"Brittany told me she was thinking about quitting the Cheerios." Quinn hadn't touched her drink and Santana wondered if she was thinking just as hard. The words made her stomach sink.

"We're not really friends anymore." Santana said simply, trying to head off any other questions. She couldn't talk about Brittany.

"Well, that was fast." Quinn snarked, but there was no real menace in her tone. "Is it because I was being such a bitch? Because I really don't care, I was just taking my own shit out on you." Quinn found her eyes and there was hard honesty in her words.

"No, we just-" Santana felt the truth pulling at the edges of her skin, trying to let itself out, but she clamped down on it. "She wasn't who I thought she was." She amended lamely. "What happened with you at Puck's, anyway? I was way too drunk and the memories are kind of blurry."

Quinn sat back and her eyebrows dipped, just a little, in concentration. She shot one look at Santana, as if contemplating, and then looked back out at the yard.

"I was talking to Rachel about – some things. About Finn, really." She hesitated, then spoke with finality. "Rachel's really not so bad." Santana was mildly surprised- firstly, that they had talked about Finn, and secondly, at the uncharacteristic hesitation Quinn seemed to be wading through. She shrugged in acquiescence.

"You're the one who always felt like impaling her with something. I'm glad you've finally seen the light, because that dwarf is our only chance at winning Regionals." Quinn smiled crookedly and nodded.

"Anyway, we just- I don't know, talked. I was a little drunk and she-" Quinn cut herself off in that natural way she had somehow perfected, but Santana could see right through it. She waited, her mind flickering through of host of possibilities. Something seemed to snap into place, because Quinn's back straightened and her eyes found Santana's. "I kissed her."

The world temporarily stopped spinning.

Santana thought, immediately, of kissing Brittany and she wondered for a second if it was a joke- a giant joke Quinn was playing on her.

"You what." Santana stated, her tone flat. Quinn was staring at her impassively, a mirror image of the nonplussed expression on Santana's face.

"It just happened and I don't even know if it means anything, but that's what happened at Puck's Friday night." Quinn stated formally. She seemed to think it was her duty to tell Santana, but Santana kind of wished she hadn't. What the hell? She thought about kissing Brittany and the ice cold fear it sparked in her, and then she thought about Quinn and her empty house and the unwavering ferocity with which she faced each day.

"Well, fuck. That's new."

Quinn's expression softened into a look of relief. Her eyes said things that would never, ever leave her mouth. Santana took a sip of tea just to ease the tension.

"Anyway, what happened to you? I heard you sexually assaulted Puck in the kitchen." Santana's eyebrows shot up in shock and disgust and she made a face.

"Uh, hell no. I was drunk and he followed me. Less than nothing happened. Besides, Brittany walked in three seconds after we did." Her face had remained scrunched up in disgust, but it softened when she mentioned Brittany's name. Quinn watched her carefully.

"You know, San, you've been my best friend for a long time." Quinn started, her tone painfully cautious. "And we're very different, but we're also way too similar. And if you ever needed to-" Santana suddenly realized where Quinn was going with this. Her body tensed perceptibly, her eyes narrowing slightly in defense.

"Thanks, I got it, Fabray. Let's cut the mushy shit." Santana literally couldn't meet Quinn's gaze. Quinn set her glass down and narrowed her eyes a little.

"What is up with you? I haven't seen you this weird and evil since Puck spent a week trying to stick his hand up your skirt in sixth grade."

"What? I wasn-"

"And I don't even mean right now, or about earlier." Quinn cut her off. "Mercedes told me you shoved some freshman down in the hallway. Ms. Pillsbury's car got keyed and it wasn't Puck this time. Principal Figgins got locked out of his office twice today." Quinn had been ticking the list off on her fingers and she held her hand up in evidence. Santana rolled her eyes.

"We're Cheerios, it's what we're supposed to do."

"Yeah, but we've never been like that. Especially not since we joined Glee Club. We practically cut the slushies in half when I made captain." She was staring at Santana like she could see straight inside her and it made Santana's skin crawl uncomfortably. She could tell Quinn- but then it would be out there. Their kiss would be out there and in the open for anyone to come by and make fun of, tear apart. Tear her apart. The same way she was turning Quinn's information around in her head, judging and questioning. She bit down on the inside of her cheek and when she let go, something sharp was angling inside of her.

"There's nothing up with me. You're the one who's lost your fucking mind- kissing Rachel Berry-" All of her walls had swung right into place. Santana grabbed her phone and keys off the table. "I'm going home. Call me when you remember where you left your cajones."

She took three steps toward the door before Quinn's hand took hold of her arm and spun her back around.

"You better not tell anyone." Quinn's eyes were blazing.

"I thought you knew me better than that." Santana growled back, and she pulled free of Quinn's grip. Quinn let her go, but her carefully controlled voice chased Santana into the house.

"I thought I did, too."

Her words clung to Santana's skin like a heavy coat, weighing her down as she hurried to her car. Once she was safely inside, she bounced her fist off the steering wheel in frustration. She hadn't meant to lose her cool like that, but lately she felt like a mass of volatile emotions, just waiting to be let loose. One wrong word and she was spitting knives.

It took her five minutes to calm down enough to drive, but even as she pulled into her own driveway she felt like the ground was slipping out from underneath her.

Santana wouldn't have believed that a Cheerio could learn how to fade into the background as easily as Brittany did, but she managed it somehow. It was probably a blessing, because every time Santana saw her something heavy and hot and vengeful settled on her chest and she felt it spilling everywhere out of her. It seeped into her gaze, the emotion hitting Brittany right in the face until her features crumpled and her eyes turned down.

The awful thing was, once all that emotion was out, Santana just felt empty. Like there was nothing there to begin with.

She tried to quit going to art class, like she had for the first few days, but there was something traitorous in her heart that wanted her to show up early and spend the whole class staring at the back of Brittany's head. The first day she had walked in, she took a seat at their usual table, half-hoping in a stupid, sick way that Brittany would sit next to her anyway. But Brittany walked in and picked a spot beside the German foreign exchange student.

Santana quit working on anything resembling an art project and spent the period with her chin on her hands, sneaking glances at Brittany's straight back, her long legs.

She hated herself, a little.

Brittany never once turned back to look at her.

The rest of the week sucked, too. At least Quinn was talking to her, even if she spent most of AP History trying to flirt with Rachel, despite the girl's strict 'no talking in class' policy. Art class sucked, Cheerio practice sucked, lunch sucked- if she was honest with herself, they sucked because she had to see Brittany and she had to see Brittany not see her. She was the only thing on Santana's mind and it seemed as if Santana had passed out of hers entirely.

She got detention for writing a dirty Spanish poem on Shuester's chalk board in Spanish, but it was Shuester detention so she spent the whole time smacking loudly on her gum and texting Tina while Mr. Shue sent her pleading looks. Puckerman, fully impressed with her "overnight stones" kept trying to get her to sneak into the janitor's closet with him, even after she locked him in there by himself. Sam flitted on the edges of her perception, nodding to her in the hallway but keeping his distance. The rest of the Glee Club seemed thoroughly confused at her rebellion but no one seemed to connect it with the fact that she and Brittany now sat on opposite sides of the room.

If anything, at least Brittany could keep her mouth shut.

She walked into school Friday morning sporting the same toxic attitude she'd been owning all week, a huge, cold Cherry slushie in one hand. Lauren was at her side, filling her in on another of Puck's pathetic attempts to ask her out. Santana sipped delicately at the flavored ice, one eye out for an unlucky target. She was laughing meanly when she rounded a corner and saw it.

It was nothing, really. But her laugh ended abruptly and Lauren gave her a weird look.

"I'll catch you later, Zizes." Santana dismissed her. Lauren raised her eyebrows, but one of her wrestling buddies slung an arm around her shoulder and she was easily distracted.

At the end of the hall, Brittany was grinning down at Artie and holding a handful of daisies Santana had just watched him give her. He was smiling back, his hands clenching nervously on his wheels.

The jealousy that flared inside her was volatile.

She walked quickly into an empty classroom and, after making sure it was deserted, peeked out and back down the hall. Brittany was cradling her books in her arms and nodding along to whatever Artie was babbling on about. Santana never knew she could feel so possessive over anything, much less another person. The emotion was laced so tightly into her bones, steeling her tendons. She thought about Artie kissing her- about Brittany dancing on him at Puckerman's party- and the idea made her want to cry and hit something and throw up all at the same time. Her eyes narrowed in an attempt to push back the tears. She honestly couldn't tell if they were from anger or disappointment.

Finally, Brittany gave a little wave and walked away. Artie watched her go, smiling goofily to himself. Santana's stomach turned ice cold with nervous determination, something hard in her chest. She didn't know what she could do, just knew she had to do something.

He was wheeling down the hall, still smiling stupidly to himself, and she took a step out of the doorway, her eyes narrowing. She was coming for him, she was going to say something- she didn't know what, it didn't matter, she just had to make him feel the way she did every night before she went to bed, like she didn't even know who she was -and maybe this wasn't even about him-

They were a few steps apart when Santana edged around a group of freshmen. There was a yell and a flash of movement to her left, a freshman guy stumbling out of the pack. She stepped away as quickly as she could but it wasn't fast enough and he toppled sideways into her, his elbow catching her hand. She was tumbling forward, seeing what was going to happen before it did, and then a cup full of freezing, colored ice was dumped into Artie's shocked face. It ran down his neck and pooled in his chair and the whole hallway was suddenly silent, Santana's heartbeat thudding loudly in her ears. He stared blindly up at her from his Slushie-smeared glasses, his mouth gaping open.

The hall erupted again, a mass of kids laughing and pointing at the shock on Artie's face. Santana schooled her own face into indifference and stood stock still in front of him for a moment, every inch of her frozen, and her face blank. She was unwilling to leave him like this and unwilling to lose face in front of anyone.

Finally, she turned on her heel and walked down the hall, away from him.

When she rounded the corner, the empty plastic Big Gulp fell from her hand and hit the tile, spraying tiny red droplets across the dirty floor.

She skipped the next two classes in the Cheerio longue, flicking through the cable blankly, the pit in her stomach gnawing incessantly at her. She smelled like Cherry slushie and the familiar odor made her think about Brittany and that first art class. Then, cleaning her off in the far stall in the girl's bathroom, their bodies close. The guilt ran straight through her, like a hot rod through her stomach. She thought about going to find Artie and apologizing but her feet never obeyed and besides, she wouldn't know how to explain.

Hey, that anger in my eyes was actually meant for you, but I didn't really mean to slushie you. P.S. stay the fuck away from Brittany or I'll steal your wheelchair and lock you in the gym by yourself.

Flavor Flav flashed before her eyes and she kept clicking. Overhead, the final bell rang at last and she sighed and slid lower on the couch. She was tired. She was tired of being scared and angry at everything. It was exhausting. She just wanted to melt into the couch and pretend like she didn't exist.

Ten minutes later, she finally pushed up off her seat and tossed the remote back on the coffee table

She walked to the locker room with her eyes dead ahead, one hand gripping the strap of her book bag. She wanted to hang her head, she wanted to sulk off to her car, but her pride would never allow it. She pushed the door open with one hand, half-hoping it would slam into some stupid Cheerio, but it only hit the wall hollowly. The locker room was almost empty. She dropped her bag onto the bench and spun the dial on her lock, cursing softly when she passed the numbers twice in her haste.

"Hey, I can totally help you with that." A bright voice piped up from behind her and literally set all of Santana's nerves on edge. She dropped the lock with a heavy clang against the metal and turned to see who was actually trying to speak to her.

The girl had dark brown hair and a quick smile and Santana stared, unimpressed.

"Did I ask for your help?" She asked curtly, and the girl's smile slid from her face. It instantly reminded Santana of Brittany, and her eyes hardened, taking in the girl's shocked, slack-jawed expression. "You look like you're in need of a clue, Terri Schaivo, so let me help you out." She took a step into the girl's personal space. "You are nobody. You're nothing. Last week, Coach nicknamed you 'Something'. So why don't you run on outside and brown nose at somebody who gives a fuck."

The girl dashed out of the locker room, swiping ineffectively at the tears already running down her face. Santana watched her go impassively, suddenly worn out again. Her stomach felt hollow. She took two steps towards back and then leaned softly against the lockers, crossing her arms tightly over her chest.

When she lifted her head, Brittany was standing at the end of the row.

"That was mean." Santana didn't move. "You get mean when you're upset." Brittany was coming closer, something sure and forgiving in her eyes that Santana didn't think she was ready to see. It took more effort than she thought possible, but she steeled her face back into neutrality and stood up straight. Her heart was beating irregularly and she thought, maybe, her nerves were about to short out on her.

She thought about telling Brittany to leave her alone, then telling her to go away, then asking her why.

She settled on: "What do you care." She started to walk toward her locker but Brittany started in the same direction. Santana stumbled to a stop but Brittany kept walking- taking small, cautious steps and watching Santana carefully. Santana's stomach swirled with anticipation, her eyes slowly widening.

"I thought you really didn't like me. But now I think you're just scared." Santana knew the deer-in-the-headlights look on her face probably wasn't disputing that fact. She stood perfectly still as Brittany neared. "I'm sorry." Brittany said quietly, gently enough that Santana wondered if she said it all. "I didn't mean-" She started, and the awful, unsure look on her face was physically painful for Santana to watch.

"Don't." Santana cut in, her voice unexpectedly rough. Brittany's expression was still downtrodden and she continued anyway, a little oblivious to the effect her words were having on Santana.

"I think we should still-" But she looked so beautiful and sad hesitating there and Santana was so tired of tying it all up inside her. Everything she'd been struggling through- it was all right there, reflected back at her from Brittany's eyes.

She stepped forward without meaning to. Something hopeful bloomed in Brittany's eyes.

"No, you were right." Santana managed, the words strained and whispered in the empty locker room. Then Brittany lifted a hand, reaching to her, and Santana fell into the touch, pressing carefully into Brittany's body, their faces nearing. Her arms wound up around the taller girl's neck and she felt wiry arms around her waist.

The weight of the past week melted off of her and she let herself sink into Brittany's touch, mouths nearing so that when she exhaled softly her breath bounced of Brittany's lips. Her eyes flickered up to glance into Brittany's and then shot back down to Brittany's soft mouth and before she could pause or drown in fear, she was kissing her again, harder than the first time, with all of her carefully constrained want. Brittany kissed her back without hesitation, pulling her closer and leaning back against the locker. One hand ran up Santana's back and the other settled warmly on her waist, dipping under cloth to brush skin and Santana sighed helplessly into the kiss, their lips brushing wetly.

Brittany turned her, rolling until Santana's back was against the locker, and their bodies pressed impossibly closer, Santana's breathing hitched. She bit Brittany's softly lip in response, tugging at it, and Brittany made a tiny hum of approval into her mouth and Santana suddenly felt like herself again. The pieces fell back into place. Brittany was holding her together, kissing her gently, and she had to pull away for a moment to catch her breath.

She panted against Brittany's neck, still pulling her closer, and finally felt like she could breathe again.

Santana stacked her History book in the back of her locker and shut it, spinning the lock once. The hallway was slowly filling with students as the clock neared eight. Sporting a fresh bruise from Cheerios practice and a tiny smile she couldn't seem to erase, Santana slipped through the throngs of people.

The arts hallway was littered with the familiar anime-Asian kids and slender dancers, but Santana walked past them as if they weren't there. She walked into the art classroom just as the first bell rang and her teacher looked up in surprise. He openly stared for a moment as she went to find her seat but, after blinking twice like a moron, finally went back to his paperwork.

Santana dropped her bags at the side of the table and sat down, folding her fingers into a triangle on the table. One by one, kids filtered into the classroom, yawning sleepily, texting. Santana waited patiently.

Finally, about three seconds after the last bell had rung, Brittany came swinging through the classroom door; a blur of carefully controlled chaos, as usual. Her eyes locked with Santana and a warm smile bloomed onto her face. She aimed directly for their desk, not even glancing at the stupid foreign exchange student. As she slid into her seat, their teacher began to drone on at the front of the classroom.

Underneath the table, she linked her pinkie with Santana's and pretended she couldn't see the beautiful blush that appeared on the girl's face.