(Lights Will) Guide You Home
A/N: First time posting or writing anything for this fandom, but the idea got in my head and just wouldn't leave me alone, so this is what came of it. It's meant to take place after the prom, so spoilers up until 2x20 Prom Queen (particularly from 2x14 "Blame It On The Alcohol"... who knew Santana was a weepy drunk?)
Reviews are love.
And also? I don't own Glee. Or "Fix You" by Coldplay. In case there was any confusion.
His phone is ringing.
He groans. It feels like he just fell asleep, and a glance at the digital clock on his nightstand confirms it. But Will prides himself on being a teacher and that responsibility doesn't turn off just because it's, oh god, just past two in the morning. So he reaches for the phone. The display flashes "unknown caller" though and that makes him pause (because it's really not paranoia, is it, if one Sue Sylvester has managed to pull some serious strings and somehow got his number put on a calling list for every hair gel manufacturer within a 150 mile radius). Unfortunately, he's already awake so Will sighs, sits up, and answers the phone mid-ring:
"Hi. Um… Mr. Shue?" The voice is hesitant and soft, but familiar, and Will rubs sleep from his eyes in a half-hearted attempt to focus. The caller, however, takes his momentary pause as a sign to continue talking, and saves him the trouble of asking who it is that called. "It's me, Mr. Shue. Brittany?" It comes out as more a question than anything else and his response is automatic.
"Brittany?" Why would she be calling him this late at night (early, really he internally corrects himself, even though it's just semantics and doesn't matter. He should be paying attention to the student on the phone.)
"Um, yes. Brittany S. Pierce. But not the singing one. I'm in your Spanish class which I know I'm totally acing by the way because Finn told me I draw the best sombreros."
Will can barely get a word in edgewise. "Uh…"
"I dance in your glee club, remember? Um, what else… Oh! Last year you totally almost caught me and Santana in the janitor's closet right before she –"
"Yes, Brittany, that's okay. I know who you are" Will interrupts as fast as he can, instantly recalling the exact encounter she was about to describe and his subsequent attempts to forget the entire thing.
"Oh." He can practically hear her brow crease in confusion. "Well, you didn't say anything so I thought maybe you'd forgot. I forget who you are sometimes!" she adds helpfully, and Will is speechless, unsure how to respond.
"What?" Simple. Eloquent. Clearly Will is not a morning person.
"Only because Coach has so many fun names for you and I get them all confused sometimes. But you're the greasy oil spill on the gulf that is McKinley this week, right?"
Will can feel the beginnings of a migraine coming on. "Brittany, is there a reason you called me?" He finally asks, pinching the bridge of his nose to relieve some tension.
And that does the trick. There is a moment of dead air that leaves Will wondering whether Brittany had hung up the phone, before he hears soft comforting murmurs he's sure aren't directed at him. "Brittany?" His gut clenches when he distinguishes a second sound, one he realizes has been fading in and out in the background for the entirety of the call. It sounds like muffled sobbing. Will is suddenly wide awake, all vestiges of fatigue gone, replaced with a gnawing worry. "Brittany, I need you to tell me if you're okay. Are you okay?"
She exhales and Will can't remember ever hearing her sound so burdened. "Yeah" she admits finally, still making gentle noises to whoever she is with. "I'm okay." A pause. "But Santana's really drunk and I know she signed that pledge thing and… I think maybe you need to… can you pick us up?"
Will jams his shoes on and has keys in hand before Brittany is halfway through reciting the address.
Will remembers prom. It was, is, a big deal in the life of any high school student. The dresses, the dates, the drama; he gets it. His high school experience was much the same way (for crying out loud he dated Terri Del Monico in high school and as unbelievable as it sounds he knows she's actually mellowed since then. Will still remembers having to console a hysterical salesgirl after Terri was through throwing pile after pile of discarded prom dresses on her counter and berating her for the better part of three hours). What he doesn't remember is the after prom parties being like this: the house is lit up completely, teeming with high school students and nearly vibrating with the dull pounding from the bass of the blaring music. The lawn is littered with empties (bottles, cans, and crushed red party cups) and cars are parked haphazardly, half on half off the curb. Students are in constant motion, streaming in and out of the house, milling on the lawn and front steps, screaming out to each other to be heard over the music.
He gives it fifteen more minutes before the cops show up.
Amid all the commotion though, Will has no trouble spotting the two girls, even from his car. Brittany is sitting on the curb, high heels scuffing distractedly against the rough asphalt of the road, arms wrapped securely around a shaking form he can only assume to be Santana. The Latina is curled into her friend, face buried in Brittany's neck as the taller girl whispers in her ear and strokes long fingers comfortingly through dark hair. They are both still in their prom dresses, and the somber pair the two make is a definite contrast from the lively backdrop of the party.
He watches as Brittany checks her phone, eyes momentarily flicking away from her friend to assess the time, before frowning. Will throws his car in park quickly, before jogging across the street to where the two are sitting. He isn't surprised when only the blonde looks up at his approach.
"Are you girls okay?"
The edges of Brittany's lips quirk into a small smile, the best she can manage he supposes, but he's still surprised how much it worries him that the normally bubbly blonde is so subdued. "Thanks for coming, Mr. Shue" she says seriously, "we're okay". Santana doesn't say anything, just sniffles quietly and burrows her face further into the junction of Brittany's neck and shoulder, arms tightening around her friend's waist. Will watches the blonde's eyes soften looking at the Latina, before she shrugs, focusing on him again. "She just needs to go home."
That much is painfully obvious, and Will can't help but agree with her appraisal of the situation. "Okay" he nods, "Can she stand up? How much have you girls had to drink?"
Brittany shakes her head, careful not to disturb the darker haired girl. "I just got here. San texted me but I don't think she meant to." Her hand smoothes the fabric on the back of Santana's dress, and Will can't help but notice the familiar way her slender fingers press into the Latina's spine. Lord knows he tries to keep up with the constantly shifting dynamics of the glee club, but he can't help but think he's missed something big between these two particular members. He shakes his head as the blonde's voice draws him out of his thoughts, coming back into focus, "…and the bottle was empty but I don't think she was the only one drinking it. She's not gonna like, puke or anything, Mr. Shue." Her hands have made their way up to Santana's neck, scratching lightly in a constant rhythm.
"Then why…" he starts, motioning to the dark haired girl who still has yet to show her face. Though her breathing has evened somewhat, her entire frame is still slumped against the blonde, letting the dancer's body support her weight.
Brittany frowns thoughtfully (an expression Will hasn't seen on her before) and sighs. "She's just sad. Like, really sad." And Will knows enough to recognize she's not just talking about tonight.
"Okay" he agrees, clapping his hands softly together in front of him in some semblance of control. "Can you get her to the car alright?" He gestures to where he parked, and Brittany nods determinedly.
"Yeah. Can you just… it's going to take a minute." And even though he's still not used to this calm, quiet Brittany, Will can still acknowledge a dismissal when he hears one.
"I'll go start the car."
He's watching through the passenger window, switching between radio stations to occupy his hands, when a few minutes later Brittany manages to coax her friend to a standing position. She drops a sweet kiss on Santana's forehead, near her hairline, before guiding her over to the car. The back door opens, and Santana slumps ungracefully onto his backseat. Her head is bowed, eyes firmly fixed on her hands clasped in her lap. Brittany follows immediately after, shutting the door lightly behind her and drawing an arm gently across her friend's shoulders. He meets her eyes in the rearview mirror as the Latina lets herself be pulled into Brittany's side.
"Where are we going?" he finally asks, breaking the awkward tension threatening to fill the car.
The blonde glances down, and it hits Will that she's waiting for a response from Santana. When she doesn't receive one she shrugs. "My house is closer."
Brittany's directions are slightly nonsensical, like how Will imagines a child's hand drawn treasure map might sound if read aloud, and her concept of landmarks is slightly skewed ("Then take a right at the pond that San pushed Ricky Miller into in the fourth grade when he was throwing rocks at the ducks… no wait, a left, right?." "And the turn is just past the house with the dog that I know plays poker on Tuesdays even though Mrs. Baker says that only happens in paintings." "I dunno, Mr. Shue. Don't you have a GPS? I lost mine when it told me to drive through a lake.") but fifteen minutes and countless metaphors he knows he will never be able to decipher later they are somehow just a few blocks from the blonde's house.
He chances a glance in the backseat; Santana still hovers between lucidity and unconsciousness. Brittany has resumed sifting her hand through the Latina's dark tresses, fingers slowly working circles against her scalp. Every so often a hiccup will escape the smaller girl, her grip tightens on the front of Brittany's dress, bunching the fabric between clenched hands, but the dancer clucks her tongue lightly, soothing her with reassurances that she's right here, she's not leaving. Will directs his attention back to the road; even though it's his car and he didn't ask to be pulled into this, he gets the feeling he's witness to an incredibly personal moment, and his discomfort is very nearly palpable at this point.
In an attempt to break the uncomfortable silence that has formed since the blonde's last set of directions, he clears his throat lightly. "I can't say I'm happy there's been drinking, but you did the right thing in calling, Brittany."
She looks up upon hearing her name, nods. "Thanks." The word forms slowly on her tongue, as if unsure of herself. "My parents are out of town, and Lord Tubbington hasn't been answering my calls since I came home with that nicotine gum." She misses the way Will's head quirks reflexively in confusion as she continues. "I didn't know who else to call."
His fingers drum lightly on the steering wheel along with the music softly playing from the speakers. "Who do you usually call when you need help?" he asks, genuinely interested.
Brittany drops hers eyes, and Will nearly misses her mumbled response. "I always just call Santana."
Hearing her name and the blonde's sad tone is enough to rouse the Latina, catching her awareness. Although the alcohol has made her movements languid and sluggish (and no doubt her thoughts are affected the same way) it seems she quickly catches on to the blonde's mood. Will hears her begin to cry again, and before he can say anything he is cut off by Santana herself.
It takes him a moment to make out what she is saying, as the girl instantly launched herself into Brittany, sobbing into her chest. But as the blonde's arms tighten reassuringly around her, Will starts to catch pieces of her speech, and his heart breaks a little for both of them.
"I'm sorry, Brittany, I'm so so sorry. I'll be better. Mereces mejor que yo. Lo siento. I'm sorry. I can be better."
Santana is sobbing openly now, either not knowing or not caring that one of her teachers is sitting just a few feet in front of her. Her hands frantically clutch at any part of Brittany she can reach, and Will has never heard anyone sound so broken. He wonders how he could have possibly missed something so important in the lives of one of his glee kids. Santana has always been one of the few who don't open up as easily as the others, but still he can't help but feel that the kind of anguish she's showing now can't be something brought on from events of tonight alone, and Will tries to think back, to think if any of his kids had known this (whatever this is to cause Santana such distress) was happening.
One look at Brittany and he knows that at least one person had known.
For the first time tonight Brittany's eyes are bright with unshed tears, her cheeks quickly flushing a splotchy red. The girl looks as though she might cry right along with Santana as she presses her hands gently against the Latina's cheeks, forcing her head up to meet her eyes. She peppers Santana's cheeks with soft kisses, thumbs brushing just under her eyes to wipe away tear tracks and smudged makeup. Santana slowly begins to stop crying, but her breath is still coming in short, quick gasps and she starts to hiccup, still muttering in a mixture of English and Spanish promises and apologies Will knows she doesn't mean for him to hear.
He pulls into the driveway of what he hopes is Brittany's house based on her description, and not a moment too soon because Santana seems to be hovering on the verge of an actual panic attack. With the car finally in park and his attention no longer occupied by the road, Will can turn around in his seat to try and help in calming her down.
But Brittany seems to have forgotten he's there as well, because she presses her forehead against Santana's, gaze locking with hers. "Breathe, San, please? Just breathe. It's okay." Her voice wavers as though she's the one who'd been crying the entire ride home, but is laced with a quiet determination Will knows he will associate with the blonde from this night forward. "It's okay," she repeats, hands smoothing over the Latina's face, her hair, her neck, before settling where they started, cupping wet cheeks. Santana responds to her friend's pleas, her breath evening out faster than Will anticipated, and he can see exhaustion slowly begin to creep into her.
"Brit?" she manages on a shaky exhale, and the dancer's responding smile is bright enough that Will turns away, feeling again like an intruder on something so extraordinarily private. He can't help himself, though, and his eyes flicker to the rearview mirror in time to see Brittany lean forward and bring her lips to meet Santana's in a short, chaste kiss.
Something clicks into place in Will's understanding.
Neither of the girls pays him any attention. Santana's breath catches as Brittany pulls away and drops another sweet kiss on the Latina, this time on her forehead. "It's okay" she says again, although this time her voice is more confident. "I can wait, San, okay? I'm right here and I still…" she sucks in a small breath, and the look on the blonde's face is one of equal parts concentration and unabashed adoration. "Te quiero" she finally finishes.
It's like all the air suddenly rushes out of the Latina's body upon hearing those words, and with a final shuddering breath and nod, Santana all but collapses into Brittany, completely spent from the night's emotional toll. Brittany catches her easily, folding her into her body like she'd done it countless times before (Will thinks now she probably has).
He twists the key in the ignition, killing the engine but leaving the battery on. The car is completely silent save for quiet voice of a late night DJ beginning to introduce a new song. The opening notes drift out of the speakers, floating through the still air of the car and Will isn't sure which urge is stronger; to remain silent or to break the tentative stillness.
When you try your best but you don't succeed / When you get what you want but not what you need
He twists in his seat to catch Brittany's eye, but her focus is completely on the figure of her best friend. "Is this the right house?"
She hums, just under her breath, before looking up and nods. When you feel so tired but you can't sleep / Stuck in reverse. "Mr. Shue? Do you think Brad could learn this song? If I asked him?"
Will blinks, taken aback by the unexpected change in subject. "Um, I'm sure he'd be happy to if you asked him, Brittany." The blonde looks almost relieved at the answer and Santana settles sleepily further into her, unaware of any conversation around her. Brittany and Will both pause, waiting to see if the Latina will stir further, before he speaks again. "May I ask why?"
Her gaze falls to the girl resting against her before blue eyes meet his gaze. And the tears come streaming down your face / When you lose something you can't replace. "I was thinking maybe I would want to sing it." She bites her bottom lip self-consciously, a nervous gesture he's not sure she's even aware of. "You know, in glee club. Or something." She looks away, shyly, as if suddenly reminded where she is and who she's talking to. What she's talking about.
"Brittany." Will says kindly, encouraging her to look forward again. She does. "I think that would be a great idea."
The smile she shoots him makes his chest warm; he's always felt as more than a teacher to his glee kids. They're underdogs and misfits and he understands them. The pride he usually finds in coaching them, in helping them, is unparalleled, but the relief and joy he sees now in Brittany's face suddenly makes him feel ten feet tall. His mind quickly takes him back to the school auditorium; to twelve kids sitting on stools, unashamed to cry, singing about writing across the sky in letters soaring a thousand feet high.
"Thanks, Mr. Shue" she finally offers, her hand finding the release and opening the side door. "For, you know… just…" she almost gives up, words failing her, and he sees her take another lingering glance at the sleeping darker haired girl. When you love someone, but it goes to waste / Could it be worse? "Thanks."
He nods in understanding. "You okay to get her in the house?"
Her head bobs up and down quickly, reassuring him, before she leans down, whispers in her friend's ear. "C'mon, San. Wanna go home?" And Will watches as Santana, without hesitation or complaint, allows the blonde to lead her out of the car and up the walkway towards the front door. Their hands are clasped together the entire time.
He waits until the pair is inside the house and he hears the heavy click of a lock falling into place before he starts the car, turns up the radio, and pulls out of the driveway.
Lights will guide you home
And ignite you bones
And I will try to fix you
Translations: (and they're rough, it's been a while since I've used the language. Apologies if any are incorrect)
Mereces mejor que yo - you deserve better than me
Lo siento - I'm sorry
Te quiero - I love you