compliments to R.E.M. for the beautiful lyrics


"Nightswimming deserves a quiet night

I'm not sure all these people understand

It's not like years ago,

The fear of getting caught,

Of recklessness and water

They cannot see me naked

These things, they go away,

Replaced by everyday..."


"You going now?" Santana asked, her dark eyes falling.

We'd both pulled our clothes back on. Things were normal again, like nothing had ever happened. It was nothing anyway, not to us. It was just sex, and we'd already slept with enough guys to make up about ten Division 1 college teams. No big deal.

Well, those were the things that I told myself.

Santana walked over to me and tugged my blond ponytail back into place. I sat there in her desk chair, watching her, staring at the curve of her ass as she slid over to her dresser. She peered at her reflection in the mirror for a moment, then picked up my A&W Lip Smackers and smeared a line of it across her lips.

"I've gotta meet Artie," I told her. "We're gonna study together."

I said it softly because I didn't want to say it at all. She was looking at me again, the way she always did. As if to threaten me. As if I had done something wrong. I didn't wanna go. I wanted to pull her into my arms and swallow her and make her a part of me. But I stood up and grabbed my bag instead.

"Okay," Santana answered.

"It's almost seven."

"Okay. Whatever."

"Okay?"

"He's your boyfriend," she spoke with a shrug. She turned away from me and collapsed on her bed, running a hand through the tangle of black waves that surrounded her face. I watched the other come to rest upon her stomach, the slight sketch of skin as her tank top slid up.

We'd had sex. Again. Me and Santana. Me and my best friend.

"Santana?" I asked.

"Huh?"

"Santana, I..." The bag clutched in my fingers stung like a hive full of bees. So rough. So heavy. I let it go and it hit Santana's rug in a moan. "I'm gonna go now," I repeated, walking over to where she lay.

She looked up, her chin bent into her neck so that her chocolate almond eyes had to peer up through her lashes to smile at me.

I gently brushed her forehead. It was wet with sweat, the strands of her hair shining and stuck to its surface.

When we were kids we used to run around the Lima Community Pool in our bathing suits, Santana always getting wiped out before I did, leaping into the water to cool herself off. She hated summer. She hated sweating. But I loved the heat of it all. I loved holding her hand and spinning into the deep end, giving in to her, even though I could take the weather.

We jumped. And when we would both come up for air, her arms circling the waist of my cheap nylon suit, she would laugh and plant her brown eyes on my blue ones and just smile. And it felt like her smile was a swing, pumping me out of the pool and up into the sky somewhere. With her.

"You can stay here. You don't have to go. Just tell him you're sick," Santana answered, reaching for the tips of my fingers.

I felt the length of her own curl around my hand, short nails scratching. She always kept them that way. Maybe for her. Maybe for me. They begged. Her eyes too were pleading, filled with the same loneliness I'd be looking at ever since we were little.

"Stay here. Please," Santana asked. Her voice was low and rough, like the hum of my grandma's old furnace. "With me."

My hand in hers, she pressed it towards her chest, the skinny blue-black tank top edging up higher and higher. I felt her heart beating. I felt her breasts rise and then fall. She didn't need that stupid boob job. She was perfect just the way she was before.

"I can't," I managed to choke out. But I couldn't let her fingers go.

"We're not gonna do anything," Santana said. "We can just talk and watch shitty TV shows. Like we used to, when we were in middle school. When we were kids." She grinned at me, rubbing my knuckles with her thumb.

"Yeah, but we're not kids anymore, Santana."

She pulled her hand away. Mine stayed pressed to her left boob. Her heartbeat felt shallow now, conscious of its every stir. Her dark brown eyes found their way inside of mine. One second, two seconds, three.

"How long are you gonna keep your hand there?" she asked.

I glanced down at her chest, the pale skin of my fingers against her caramel collarbone, and quickly pulled away.

Santana responded with a loud sigh. She sat up, wrapping her feet under her thighs, the chipped black polish of her toenails jutting out from beneath them. "Look, Brit, I'm not in love with you or anything! I'm not, like, trying to steal you away from Artie. Don't make this out to be some kind of rendezvous by the Porta-Potties at Lilith Fair shit."

I bit my lip, tasting me, tasting her. My Lip Smackers. Her kisses.

"What is this then, Santana? 'Cuz I'm confused."

"You're confused about life."

"Is life what Santana means in Spanish?" I answered angrily.

"C'mere."

I didn't feel like following her orders anymore. I stayed right where I was.

"Come up here," she said.

I stood on her white carpet, gazing at her until she put out both of her arms and crawled across the bed, pulling me up onto her. I fell between the V of her legs, my knees grazing her ankles. She pressed her full lips into a line, her hair in her eyes as my hands landed upon the muscles of her bare upper arms.

She seemed so far away. Like I was only looking at a picture someone else had drawn of her.

But I could hear her breathing. And I could smell her. The perfume she had rubbed along her arms, the flowery shampoo, a mingling of dirt and rose soap still left behind on her skin. She smelled so good and so comfortable. Like home. Like my house.

"We're still best friends, right?" she asked. And for the first time I heard a quaver of genuine worry in her voice. Maybe she'd finally had enough of pretending to be a badass in front of me.

"That's a stupid question," I answered. "I can say that 'cuz I know stupid."

"You're not stupid," she said. She looked up, brushing a strand of sweat-laced hair behind her ear. Her fingers struck the silver hoop at her lobe. "Why do you say crap like that?"

I shrugged into her.

"You're not stupid, Brit. And I..." Santana's words cracked, her beautiful dark eyes gone darker as they swallowed my own. "Well, I wouldn't be best friends with you if I thought you were stupid."

"I've gotta go."

"Fine then. Go," she said, waving her hand through the air.

"I'm only gonna meet him for a few hours. And it's only the bus to Lima Proper, Santana, not the moon," I whispered. "You know I can't go to the moon yet. Not until my dad finishes my suit."

My throat grew tight and thick, as if someone had layered it with cement. I'd mentioned my dad again. Santana hated that. Hers wasn't nice, like mine was. Hers was never around.

"Sorry," I apologized.

"Whatever." She laughed into my hair, a sad laugh full of tears she'd never cry.

"I've gotta go," I repeated, not one part of me moving.

Santana reached out to touch my calf, running her hand up its length to rest on my knee. "Don't go. Stay here." Her palm closed over me like petals.

"We shouldn't do this anymore, Santana."

"Why not?"

"You know why."

"No, I don't."

"Yes, you do. 'Cuz we're not a couple. 'Cuz you're not..."

She stared straight at me. Those headlights so blinding.

"I love you. You know that I love you, but I can't do this to Artie anymore. It'll screw everything up."

"Okay, so why don't you let me take care of that? I'm good at screwing things up." She jammed her tongue into the corner of her mouth, shaking her head. "At least it seems that way. With you."

"Santana..." I started. "I just want you to say it. You say it too."

"Jesus! This again, Brit? Why do you always have to put labels on everything?" she exclaimed, whisking her hand away from my leg. "We're not a couple and you're dating Artie and I still diddle Puck every now and again when I get bored and horny. Who cares? Look, Brit, why can't we just be what we are and leave it? I told you already. This isn't cheating 'cuz the plumbing's different. We're friends. We're just friends." She sucked her breath into her mouth and turned away from me. "Okay?"

My teeth scraped over my lip, a pause, as Squeeze played in the background. "I think we should talk to someone. Like someone gay. Like Kurt maybe."

"Kurt? Elephant-in-the-room Kurt? No way! Besides he's nowhere near McKinley anymore, not since he pranced off to Rainbow Brite Academy."

"We're not just friends, Santana," I spoke quietly.

"Well, I'm not a fucking dyke either." She gave me an annoyed look and leapt off of the bed. I joined her on the floor, grabbing her shoulders before her chest could slam into mine.

"Don't run away," I said. "You always run away."

Her breath fell close to my ear, the hot shards of rum we'd both drank earlier that evening burning my cheek. She looked me in the eyes, her lips nearly touching my own. I pressed a hand to her shoulder just to feel her, to make sure that she was really still there.

"What?" she asked in an exhausted voice.

"Nothing."

But it was already decided. My fingers found their way up to the curve of her throat, her long lean neck, the muscles at its base from so much heavy singing. Santana took a breath and leaned into me. I felt the softness of her shorts against my stomach, her thigh shifting to rest in the hollow between my legs. I ran my thumb over her bottom lip.

"Don't," she begged in a gentle voice.

The word on my skin vibrated.

I didn't say anything, my palm gripping her jaw in a vise. My mouth collided with hers, my lips cut on her teeth. She let out a moan. For a moment I thought I had hurt her. For a moment I almost stopped. But Santana reached up and kissed back, her skinny hand rising to skim my face. I pressed my tongue into her open mouth, thrusting it against her own. So soft. So forceful. And I could taste her spit, hot and sweet, the lingering bite of alcohol biting me in return.

I wanted to drown in her. Her body. Her perfume. And her. Just her underneath. All of the things she kept hidden from everyone else but me.

I bit at her ear, her neck, swallowing the thin layers of skin over and over again until her moans became too much for me. I pushed her skinny frame towards the wall, Santana's back crashing into it. I saw her wince and instinctively ran a hand over her hot cheek. "Sorry, sorry."

She only smiled, her eyes shining and bloodshot, those long lashes falling gently.

I tugged at her tank top, tearing it from her shoulders. It slipped to the floor in a puddle. My hand on her chest felt clumsy, like a schoolboy's, even though we'd done this a million times before. It was always her doing it to me. I didn't know what she wanted. But she drew in a gasp, angling her chin into my bicep, chunks of hair tumbling down to touch me.

Santana grabbed my hand, pressing it tight against her naked chest. My fingers curled in under her breast, my hand crawling down to stroke her flat kid's stomach then back up to the juncture between her breasts. The stiff rib. Up to skim the flesh jutting out, a nipple warm and hard. I circled it with a shaky thumb.

Santana groaned, pushing herself into me. My palm was squashed between our bodies. I felt her leg at my crotch, her knee digging deep until I was forced to sigh myself.

I looked down at her beautiful face, flushed pink at the edges, and kissed her gently this time. Each lick, each nibble like a single thought I wanted to remember. I bit down on her lower lip, sucking it into my mouth for just a moment. And then I let it go, caressing her tongue with my own, letting her trace its line in return.

"I love you," I whispered. "Just tell me you love me back."

She didn't say anything, her eyes slowly filling with tears.

I wiped them away for her, kissing her wet lashes, kissing her sad eyes closed. "Don't cry, don't cry. Please. Okay, okay, you don't have to say it."

Our breath twisted together as I pressed my body into hers. My dancer's stomach on her tiny boy hips, my breasts mashed into nothing, my trapped arm sliding down. Down. I let my fingers hit the slim spot between Santana's legs. She moaned, her lids falling shut. I dug into the curve of her shorts as her trembling gasps fell jagged against my ears.

"Please just do it, Brit." Her palms came up to clutch my face. She stared into my eyes. "Please," she pleaded. "Just do it."

So I grabbed her by the arms and pulled her towards the bed. She slid down into it, me hovering above her as my hips rocked against hers. They dug into her, pressing deeper and deeper, her arms at my side, our palms buried in the mattress.

Santana pressed her lips to my mouth. She tasted like me now. Like my Lip Smackers. I cupped her face in my hands, leaning into her waiting mouth, my lips on hers and her hot tongue sneaking out to bite me. Her hand slithered up my side as my heart struck the walls of my chest.

I shifted, lifting my body up just slightly, sliding Santana's shorts down to her calves. She closed her eyes. I felt her heart pounding over my own. I swallowed my breath in shallow chunks. She felt so soft, so perfect.

"Santana?" I asked.

"What?" She licked her lips and looked up at me, her eyes blinking out a rhythm, her fingers crawling across the sheets to graze my forearm.

"Nothing. I just wanted to say your name."

She smiled at me, swinging me up towards the ceiling.

My fingers curved their way down to her open legs. She gasped as they grazed over the hair she always kept shaved, my middle finger nudging its way in. She was wet. Slick and warm. So I did what she'd been doing to me all of these months, bending my finger upwards, thrusting it in and out as my hips shook against hers.

She cried out. "Brit." My name, but it sounded like a song instead.

I moved on top of her, slipping another finger inside, massaging her clit with my thumb. Circles. Small. Big. Bigger. So small they could not really be circles at all.

She moaned into the sheets, sweat beading across her brown skin, shoving her hips into my wrist. I glided across her belly, my hand underneath me, the propulsion of my hips driving my fingers in and out of her. She cried out again, her head rising off of the bed and her mouth open in a moan.

I dug my palm into her pelvis as her breathing grew more and more rapid, her skinny legs buckling beneath mine. She closed her thighs around my fingers, my hand still moving inside of her.

Then she let out a small, throaty moan and stared back at me in silence. I pulled out of her and rolled over. Her shoulders lined up with mine, her bare breasts scraping my thin T-shirt. I moved my hand across her forehead, wiping away the sheen of sweat. A kiss to her eyebrow. The bridge of her adorable nose. Her cheek. Her chin. She smiled.

"Your smile's so big right now," I said. "You used to smile like this all of the time when we went swimming. Remember? When we were in middle school?"

"Yeah," she whispered. "I remember. You told me you loved me and I splashed water in your eyes."

"Yeah."

One more kiss, to her mouth. She slid under her sheets, pulling them over her body. I got in next to her and slid up against her, my shoulder clicking into hers like a Lego block.

"Brit?" she asked, her breath burning my neck.

"What?"

"I can't say it."

Her voice broke and I knew that she was crying. I couldn't do anything but grab her in my arms and hold her as she sobbed. I could feel every part of her. Everything I had touched. I looked away towards the dark window, at its thick curtains.

"If I say it...then everything changes. Do you understand what I mean?" she asked, her words muffled by my shoulder.

"No." Santana's curtains were black. They never moved, hanging there like soaked ghosts and dripping down down down to the floor. "Not really."

"What I'm saying is...I just can't..." She pulled away from me, dragging the tips of her index fingers over her eyes, streaks of indigo mascara gathering on her skin. She wrapped her arms across her bare chest. "I can't say what you want 'cuz then it'll be real. You know? And what would people say, what would they do, behind my back? Fuck," she spoke in her tattered voice, "I'm not like Kurt. I couldn't take all of that shit." The tears were in her eyes again. She hung her head and let her hair fall over them.

"I love you."

We were just kids then but I'd always been full of her. Everywhere we went, everything we did, it was done together. So it was like I had two hearts and I had to carry them around in my chest by myself, waiting for them both to choke me.

So I said it. I let them go, said to her in the water one August, both of our skinny bodies bobbing like buoys. And I'd tugged at her wet hand and pulled her into me, kissing her on the cheek. My double heart burst. I thought I might drown on the words.

"I love you."

She'd glared at me and scraped her palm across the water, splashing me in the face. She had bad aim, I thought. Terrible aim! She'd splashed me but gotten it in her eyes too.

I was only 12. I was only a kid and stupid and I didn't know it then, what I'd done to her and what I'd keep doing. That giving her our hearts would only ever make her cry.

She ran away, darting across the perimeter of the pool while I floated alone.

"I'm sorry, Brit," Santana whispered. "Sorry." The words so heavy it was like she was trying to cram the last four years inside of them.

She leaned over the side of the bed, her tanned breasts hanging in the air as she picked her tank top up off the floor. She shook it into a line, pulling it over her head, absentmindedly fiddling with the straps. I gazed across the bed at her, but she never looked back at me.

"You should go now," she said.

I reached out. I couldn't keep myself from touching her. To smooth her hair. To graze her shoulder with my weak fingers, running them down the length of her upper arm.

She twisted her head into my hand.

"But you said you wanted me to stay," I answered quietly. "And watch bad TV shows together."

"You should go meet Artie." She reached over the sheets to retrieve her shorts, sliding them up over her ass, twisting her way out of bed and into the bath connected to her bedroom. "See you tomorrow at school," she called out from behind the closing door.

I popped a finger into my mouth, chewing at the nail. I heard the water of her shower rush on. I closed my eyes and saw her in there, rinsing all of the sweat away, rinsing me away.

And, before I could leave the room, she'd already let me go.