It's not so much the way she looks at you as the way she doesn't.

You had Homeroom and Home Ec. and Chem and Chem Lab together today and all morning long she kept her hands to herself, her eyes on her own paper. And when the hell does that ever happen?

Last night you called her when she got back from motocross, like you always do on Sunday nights. She sounded tired and cranky. She said she sucked at practice and she was achy from a fall. You assured her that she remained completely awesome and asked if she wanted you to come over for cuddles and a massage, but she said no, it was late, her mom was in a mood and Chrissy was being ridiculous. She said she was just going to take a bath and go to bed. You thought she was just bummed about the crappy practice. But then today all you got was a distracted kiss on the cheek at your lockers and a morning full of silence and you're getting worried.

You wonder about it all through 5th period, gnawing your pen cap to shreds and completely ignoring what is going on in class. It seems like the teacher has just announced a big deal test or something, judging from the way Tina and Quinn are sighing over the thick review packets that were just handed out. But you toss yours in your backpack without a second glance. Hapsburg Empire - whatever. Who freakin' cares? All you want to know is why her eyes are that stormy shade of blue.

She's got Geometry while you're in AP Euro, so you usually meet up in the cafeteria 6th period. Sometimes the two of you skip lunch, go out to your car, listen to music, sing, talk.

Not talk.

But today she's not there when you reach the lunchroom. You scan the tables. She's not anywhere. Now the knot in your stomach really tightens.

Was it that thing you said on Saturday about the girl who works at the coffee place? She said she knew you were just kidding about that. She said she thought the girl was pretty cute too. And then she smiled and leaned in and whispered "Do you want that iced or hot?" and you closed your bedroom door and the two of you enjoyed a lovely afternoon game of pretend, with Britts as the barista, you as the customer and whipped cream as the whipped cream.

"Hey."

Artie rolls up next to you. You nod in his general direction, but he's kind of the opposite of the person you want to see right now.

"Come get lunch with me."

You try to act normal, but your eyes keep scanning the room for her.

"Not hungry." Not exactly true, but you certainly don't feel like eating.

"C'mon." He rolls behind you and kind of prods you along with his chair. You stomp along, scowling. First Britt's being totally weird to you and now you're being manipulated by a cripple. Macrippulated.

You chuckle, in spite of yourself. Artie thinks you're happy with him, for some unfathomable reason, and takes a minute off of piling his tray high with disgusting school food to smile up at you. You roll your eyes.

You're sort of friends now, maybe, you guess. Things were awkward over the summer, but Brittany doesn't know the meaning of the word awkward (well, she does, but she confuses it with backward), and blithely continued to try to force everyone to be friends.

It got easier to deal with him once he got a new girlfriend, this ridiculously hot redheaded sophomore named Amy, she's on the volleyball team. She and Britts are pals now - they share a love of sports. And cats. And wide belts.

Brittany and Amy insisted that the four of you go on double dates. And you and Artie are both whipped, so you both went along with it, even though you both thought it was the worst idea you'd ever heard. But it turns out Artie is a lot easier to get along with when Britt is holding your hand and not his. Specifically, Artie has become your go to guy for two things: he's a perfect whiteboy thug foil to your round-the-way princess act and he is a freakin' ninja at checking out girls. He's the one who noticed the hottie barista in the first place, hiding behind her bangs and a cloud of steam.

You see he's having trouble reaching the chocolate milk, you lean down and grab him two cartons. He always gets two cartons.

"Thanks, Santana."

Yeah, yeah, yeah. You're a saint. Where is she?

"Where's Britt?" Artie echoes your thoughts as he rolls through the checkout line. You grab a bottle of water and a pack of gum on your way through, toss some dollars in the direction of the cashier.

"She..."

There she is.

She's creeping into the cafeteria, trying to hide behind Finn. She avoids your gaze.

What the actual fuck?

Artie turns his head to see what you're staring at and sees Britt trying not to be seen. He raises an eyebrow. "Trouble in paradise?"

He muttered it, soft. But you hear it anyway.

"Shut it, Abrams." That old snarl is back, and he knows better than to push again. He balances his lunch tray in his lap and wheels off to the safety of his girlfriend and a table of her Amazonian volleyball friends.

Your eyes track straight back to Brittany. She's sticking to the edges of the room, trying to be inconspicuous. It's pretty much impossible for her. If the flash of her golden hair weren't eye-catching enough, her outfit attracts its own attention. You've set her phone to deliver a weather update every morning, so she's dressed for the rainy day. Sort of.

Her knee high Hunter boots are bright green, and thigh high socks peep over the tops, striped yellow and pink. Her shorts are a sober dark blue, but short. A pair of pink and red suspenders hang over her hips, emphasizing their distracting curves. She's wearing what used to be a normal, shapeless rain slicker. But she and Kurt re-envisioned it, Quinn helped her cut and sew it, and now it's a weirdly sexy, shiny yellow, cropped jacket.

Your girlfriend is so amazing and strange.

A thrill runs through you, a shiver that leaves your face tingling and your fingertips warm.

But she's still all the way across the room. She's got her eyes on the ceiling, the floor, anywhere but where they might meet your gaze.

She's moving again. You mentally map out her trajectory and move to put yourself in her way. You have to shove a few freshmen boys out of your path, but you finally meet up with her in the corner by the vending machines.

She fiddles with the toggles on her jacket and stays silent just long enough to give you a fucking heart attack. There's another shiver running through your veins now – icy and full of doubt.

She met someone else at motocross. She didn't meet anyone else, she just finally figured out how much you suck. She wants boys again. She hates you.

You're about to vomit when her fingers reach out and brush yours. At least she's looking at you now. But she's chewing on her top lip, the way she always does when she's nervous.

Oh. Breathe.

Your lungs don't work exactly right, but you get enough air to form a sentence.

What you mean to say is "Brittany, please tell me what's wrong. You're my angel baby and I love you with every molecule of my existence. Your distance over the past 24 hours has my heart in tatters. My nerves are shredded, I can't eat. I can hardly inhale properly. I don't care what it is, I don't care. Just tell me. And please, please, please tell me we'll be able to fix it together."

What actually comes out is, "Oh my god, Brittany, WHAT?"

She blinks and jumps a little.

Oh, god. No.

"Sorry. Sorry. Britts. Please." You twine your fingers into hers. You breathe with her, calming the rush of your heart. "You've got me worried baby. What is up?"

She chews on her lip again. You force yourself to keep quiet while she works out what she has to say.

"You're gonna be mad."

"Mad would be a vast improvement over dying of a heart attack, B. I don't know if you're dumping me, or you killed someone or…"

"I would never do that!"

She's indignant, her blue eyes so wide it makes you smile.

"I know, you don't even like killing bugs."

"No. I'd never dump you."

She holds your gaze, holds you steady. You hold her right hand in your left. Her left hand tracks over the soft skin of your arm, tickles at the inside of your elbow.

You draw her in for a kiss. You mean it to be quick, but it's been about 34 hours since your last proper kiss, which is about 33.75 hours too long. When your lips meet hers you can't stop, and she never does. The taste of her breath in your mouth restarts your heart; the soft touch of her tongue against your lower lip sends a warm rush of blood through your organs. She invented oxygen just for you. She's so damn sweet.

Your head swims, a pleasant buzz. The knots in your nerves come undone.

You lean back against the side of the vending machine, pull her along with you, and keep kissing. Your right hand finds her hip, your left tangles in her hair, thumb stroking along her jaw line.

"Mmmm…"

It's less like a hum and more like a purr, that warm sound that rumbles up from inside of her, makes her lips buzz gently against yours.

She leans into you. The tip of her tongue flickers at the corner of your mouth and the pace reminds you of Saturday night and Friday night and last Thursday 3rd period in the janitor's closet.

"Mmmm…"

The sound comes from you this time, and it's more of a growl than a purr.

She snickers and presses into you even harder. Her fingers find their way under the hem of your tank top and her next kiss lasts and lasts.

For a few moments you're lost. You watch the fireworks swirling. But she finds you, she always finds you. There's no sound but the secrets you whisper at each other's lips. You only measure time by how agonizingly slowly her hand is stroking its way upward over the bare skin of your stomach.

And then there's clapping, which is weird.

You realize you're still in the cafeteria.

The clapping is coming from a nearby table of jocks. Azimio says something filthy and you look up just in time to see Dave slap him in the back of the head. Hard.

The cafeteria reverts to its usual buzz.

Miss Pillsbury materializes and stammers at you. "Ladies. Right. Well. Maybe…just…try…" Her face turns a deeper shade of red with each stuttered word.

You cut her a break. "No worries Miss P. Just got carried away. Sorry."

Brittany nuzzles into your shoulder. "Yeah. Sorry. It's just that we're super hot."

Miss Pillsbury's face practically goes up in flames. "Um."

She can't think of a follow up, just turns and runs.

Lunch is almost over, people are clearing out. You lead Britt over to an empty table and she sits on the table top, puts her feet up on a chair.

You put your hands on her knees.

"Ok babe. What's up? What am I gonna be so mad about?"

She jiggles one leg, bouncing your hand along with her knee.

She pouts, but holds your gaze. "I can't go on the trip next weekend." It comes out in one big breath.

No one's dead and you still get to touch her, so you're pretty much elated. You grin big. But then the reality of what she said hits you and oh damn, that actually does suck. Mr. Shue and Miss Pillsbury are taking the Glee club to Columbus to see the touring company of Spring Awakening, which Rachel has been completely bugging out about and you've all heard enough of her nonsense to sort of want to see it.

The plan is to drive up for a matinee on Saturday. There's a Q&A with the cast after, and at night Kurt has talked Schuster into taking you all to some weird performance art robot choir thing. Then you stay over Saturday night, have breakfast Sunday and short bus it home again. You and Britt had been planning to sneak out at night to some girl clubs. And you've been working for weeks on menacing Mercedes and Tina into switching rooms so you and Britts can stay together. Alone together.

She sees the smile fade from your face.

"I'm so sorry. I got the dates mixed up and I promised Mrs. Baxter weeks ago that I'd housesit and dogsit. I realized yesterday it's the same weekend, but my mom won't let me cancel on her and anyway I really do want to stay with the puppies but I also want to go and I know you've been trying to help me be better with my calendars but…"

She's getting teary, but you're beginning to see opportunity here.

"So you're telling me that instead of having to suffer through hours on a short bus with Rachel, and a weekend of sneaking around Shue and Pillsbury in a budget hotel in freakin' Columbus, you've got the keys to the Baxters' house?"

She nods.

"And they're gonna be away all weekend?"

"Friday night to Monday, actually. You're not mad?"

"We're talking about the Baxters who live on Midland right? The ones with the two fancy looking gray dogs and the full bar in the basement and the hot tub?"

She's getting the idea now. A smirk starts at the corners of her mouth. "Yep."

You slide your hands from her knees up her thighs. The second bell rings and you both completely ignore it.

"Yeah, not mad." You lean in, smiling, to kiss her again. "Not mad at all."