Disclaimer: I don't own Glee nor its original characters (if I did it would probably be called The Brittany and Santana Show, and all the other characters would only be there to help advance their plot, if they were even there at all).
A/N: Hey, readers! I'm back. First and foremost: thank you all for the kindness, and the sweet words, and well wishes, and... just... thank you so much. You guys are the best. Sorry it took a while longer than anticipated but right after my last message I decided to take a proper vacation, you know, instead of just taking a week tops like I've been doing in the past. That's why it took longer. But I'm getting my writing mojo back. Slowly.
***Without further ado this one goes out to: everyone. There's really no way of choosing this time. You're all fantastic. However, I MUST point out that it goes especially to you. You know who you are. Yes, you, I won't mention the username because it looks like you're not exactly out and I'm no Finn. I don't know whether anyone from your "real life" knows you're around here and knows your username. So, better safe than sorry. Anyways, Jesus, kid, I'm so... unworthy of your PM, but I'm genuinely happy that the story touched you so much and helped you in a special way. I'm flattered, but mostly in awe of you and your ability for... I don't know, generosity? With others and especially with yourself. I guess the word doesn't do you justice. Know that your message touched me too. Deeply. I thank you. I'm terrible at advice like you asked of me, and I already answered your PM properly, but I leave you with the wise words of the philosopher Morrissey: "It's so easy to laugh. It's so easy to hate. It takes strength to be gentle and kind." And you are mighty strong, my friend. I'm not really one for turning the other cheek, so rise above and hold your head high. Oh, and by the way, glad you searched the Copeland song I hinted at in that chapter. It really seems to have been written for Santana. Happy it helped you as well, even if it brought you to tears. Sorry :) Again, all the best to you and keep being your amazing self.
Hope you guys like the chapter. It's an extra long one, so I also hope it makes up for the wait. Enjoy!
Mischances, Stances and Stolen Glances
Santana stood in front of her hospital locker, hurriedly adjusting the black overcoat she had just put over the blue scrubs, and stuffing some small items in the coat's pockets. It was close to eight in the morning. She had this goofy little smile on her face, which made for a pretty eerie sight for a few fellow interns around her that were changing to go home as well.
James approached her. His locker was one down to his friend's. "Thanks a lot for waiting for me back there," the British man spoke sarcastically while opening up his own locker.
A few seconds passed and the lack of a snappy retort made Jimmy look at Santana's face for the first time since entering the room. The shaggy-haired tall man noticed the goofy grin instantly.
"Someone is in a good mood," James said playfully, letting a cheeky smile take over his own lips. The comment earned him a brief sideways look from the daydreaming brunette as she pulled her long ponytail from under the back of her coat. Remarkably there was no eye-roll to follow.
"I wonder why that is…" He continued in a lighthearted teasing manner, taking off the stethoscope from around his neck and storing it in the locker before quickly returning his gaze to his friend. "I bet it has nothing to do with a certain gallivanting blonde dancer who will be coming home tomorrow," Jimmy added knowingly, noticing as Santana's goofy grin morphed into a full-blown one.
Santana said candidly, holding the man's gaze while putting a set of keys in her pocket, "Yes, I am happy that my fiancée…" their new relationship status still made her all warm and fuzzy inside "…will finish her tour and come back home tomorrow morning."
After a beat. "Is that a crime?" She added for good measure, stepping closer to her locker so a woman could pass behind her.
"Aww, she's admitting it, ladies and chaps," James said a bit louder in his sweetest tone of voice, comically looking around himself at no one in particular. "How proud I am of your emotional growth, my dear," he added in a joking manner. "You've come so far…" the hazel-eyed guy trailed on through a mild laugh, holding on to his locker's door absentmindedly.
"Screw you," Santana shot back immediately, but there was no bite to her words and the lingering grin gave her away. "Besides, you don't even know what 'emotional growth' means… my dear," she added sarcastically without missing a beat, closing with a thud her locker's door in the process.
"Now…" the woman drawled out, meeting her friend's gaze full-on. "I've got to run. You see, I have many things to do before tomorrow. That's why I didn't have time to hold your hand all the way from back there to here," Santana added condescendingly, slightly turning around to begin walking towards the exit door. "So, bye," she finished, taking a couple of steps to the door before being stopped by Jimmy's voice.
"Wait!" He called out, making the brunette come to a halt. "What about our coffee?" James asked with slightly furrowed brows. They always had coffee together at the nearby diner after having worked the graveyard shift. "What do you have to do that is so pressing to the point of giving up coffee?"
Santana took a deep breath and relinquished it slowly. She was in fact on a rush, but her mood was too good. So, she decided to just indulge the guy.
Putting her hands in her coat's pockets she said calmly, facing James, "Well, if you must know, I have to tidy up the place a bit…" she took one hand out of her pocket to start counting them on her fingers, "…do some laundry, then I have to pick up my red little dress that Britt loves so much at the dry cleaning, go to my hair appointment at the hairdresser near Berry's and do my nails by myself since those exploitative bastards from that fancy flower shop at the corner of 5th and Main are practically charging me a kidney for the arrangement of gerbera daisies I ordered, you know, Britt's favourite flowers…"
Her rant was softened by the smile that was brought to her face at the mention of the tidbit that, however, didn't stop her from continuing as she held her hand in the air showing five fingers whilst Jimmy smiled at her antics, "Which reminds me that I also have to pick the thing up first thing in the morning before going to the airport. But seriously, those flowers better be sprinkled with powder gold or some shit because I've been surviving on crackers and water this last week to afford it." And she smiled widely at her own quip.
It hadn't been the flowers that broke her though. The real reason was the last-minute first class ticket to Seattle she had to buy to go see one of Brittany's gigs two months ago. Santana had a rare long weekend opened-up after one of her Med School professors caught a serious bug and cancelled all his classes that one Friday. On a crazy whim she decided to surprise Brittany and the first class ticket was the only one yet not booked at the time. But, of course, she would blame it on the flowers; just because it had been the latest stab at her finances.
"And on mooching off me and Quinn..." Jimmy added teasingly, a big smile on his thin lips while he took his coat from the locker. "I lost track of how many times you subtly invited me to invite you out," he added through sheer laughter.
"Yeah, well, that's what friends are for, right?" Santana unapologetically shot back through a smirk, finally putting her counting hand down.
"Admitting friendship as well?" James sarcastically asked in faux shock, slipping his black overcoat on. "Wow, you really missed her, didn't you?" He added in same fashion, adjusting the coat with ease while people entered and exited the room around them.
Santana's smirk shifted into an incredibly earnest and sweet smile. "You have no idea," she replied candidly and Jimmy dropped the comics and smiled back genuinely at his best friend as he shut his locker closed.
"And now I really have to go," Santana added after a beat.
"No, come on," James pleaded, snapping out of the daze induced by their little genuine moment. He was a man on a mission after all. James Bond, er, Graham would not disappoint. "Only one cup of coffee... One tiny cup won't delay you," he added hurriedly. "Besides," the tall man continued suggestively, stepping close to Santana and wrapping an arm over her shoulders, "you two will most definitely be shagging on every available surface for the next few weeks. So, we won't even have the chance to hang out as much."
Santana took a good gander at her friend and seemed to be pondering the request. Let's face it, Jimmy did have a point. The thought made Santana smirk. She truly was dying to be with Brittany again. Like, literally dying. Ok, maybe not literally, but… She could actually feel a tiny part of her dying within each day they had spent apart. Those two times Santana surprised her fiancée by visiting her on tour weren't nearly enough for her. She ached for more. And she would be lucky if it was just about sex. No, she deeply felt Brittany's absence every day through a myriad of little things: when she was having breakfast alone; when something funny happened during the day and she'd get home all excited to tell Britt only to find the apartment empty; when she saw ducks in any way, shape or form; when she reached around the bed in the middle of the night and didn't feel the other woman's body; when that ridiculous cat commercial was playing on the tv; when she drank water; when she said the word 'like'… well, suffice to say, it was a long – and rather nonsensical to outsiders – list. Yes, phone and Skype were awesome… but nothing like face to face contact.
Seeing an in on Santana's demeanour James pressed on gently, "You can totally get your posh on later." He used the woman's own terms – unconsciously mixed with his own – to butter her up even more.
"Fine," Santana conceded casually… with a half-assed eye-roll of course. "One cup of coffee and then I'm out."
"That's my girl," Jimmy gushed patronizingly, guiding Santana outside the room with his arm still around her shoulders. The feisty brunette simply shrugged him off. She was in a good mood, but her friend was pushing it with his tone.
"Don't forget to take notes at Barnard's class tomorrow morning," Santana said casually as they strolled down the hospital's hallways side by side. "Legible notes, please," she warned, shooting a sidelong glance at Jimmy to enforce her words. "I won't be showing up at class and I'll need them, alright?"
"Aye, aye, Captain," James shot back with some amusement as they neared the nurses' station.
Soon after the couple of friends were almost reaching the exit automatic double doors when Santana noticed that her beaten-down running shoes had the lace from one foot undone. She stopped on her tracks with James coming to a halt beside her, and then with a little smile on her face she simply lifted her leg towards the man as a silent request for him to re-tie it for her.
"Seriously, who needs the hand holding now?" Jimmy rhetorically asked with a scoff but was already bending down a bit to oblige. As he tied the lace for Santana whilst shaking his head slightly, James couldn't help but mimic the brunette's little smile.
"Gracias," Santana uttered charmingly after the British man let her foot down gently.
She truly is in a good mood; Jimmy mused inwardly as they crossed the exit doors together.
Catching yet again a goofy grin on Santana's lips as he stole a sideways glance at her, the hazel-eyed man couldn't help but remark, "You really missed her, huh?"
As they kept strolling to the diner Santana met his gaze and held it for a few seconds before she repeated with sheer frankness, "You have no idea."
They exchanged a meaningful look as Santana's dope smile infected James, who displayed it back in kind. Although his had a sort of devious quality to it that was lost on his brunette friend.
Anyways, they continued their walk for a couple of minutes in comfortable silence. The diner wasn't far from the hospital. When they finally reached the place Santana came to an abrupt halt, taking James with her as the woman's jaw dropped and she quickly covered her mouth with her left hand: right there, leaning gracefully against the diner's building was none other than… Brittany. Her Brittany, in all her glory. The dancer wore this giddy, bright smile on her face as she stared square into her fiancée's surprised eyes.
"Oh, My God!" Santana exclaimed with astonishment, dropping her hand from her mouth slowly. "Brittany… What are you doing here?" She added in question, wide-eyed in the middle of the sidewalk with a mischievous-looking Jimmy by her side.
"What am I doing here?" Brittany repeated with amusement, bright smile still in place as she pushed her body off of the building whilst doing her best to balance the two to-go coffee cups that sat on a cardboard tray on her hand. "I was going for a 'welcome home, babe', but…" she trailed on playfully.
Shaking her head from side to side repeatedly in an attempt to come to her senses, Santana replied promptly, "Well, of course, welcome home, babe…" And she flashed Brittany a still slightly shocked little smile, but took no steps in her fiancée's direction. Her feet were completely unresponsive. "I just…" Santana's words just died down in her mouth.
"We wrapped things up earlier. My flight arrived a couple hours ago," Brittany offered simply, trying to bring her fiancée out of her shock while taking a couple of steps forward to shorten the distance between them. "Hey, Jimmy!" Brittany acknowledged the man, taking her eyes from Santana briefly for the first time to look at him.
"Welcome home, Miss Dancer!" James said with a funny voice and a wide smile. "Well, soon-to-be Mrs. Dancer actually… Or will it be Mrs. Doctor-Dancer? Well, I'm sure you guys will decide," he continued rambling animatedly when a thought occurred to him. "Oh, Mrs. Double D! Nice…" Jimmy finished sleazily with a smug smile on his lips, which earned him a punch on the arm from Santana.
"More respect, please!" Santana chastised, sparing her friend a glare that didn't last long because her gaze was soon back at Brittany's and the dancer's presence elated the brunette all over again. "And you knew about this?" Santana asked, clearly referring to Brittany's early arrival. James did not look surprised.
"Obviously," James simply put it, and his entitlement made Santana roll her eyes as Brittany smiled widely. She had missed that... Those interactions. "And after all my awesome skills at keeping this quiet I get no coffee?" He asked Brittany with a slight pout, eyeing only two coffee cups on the tray.
Without taking her eyes from Santana – they had a little eye-sex thing going on by that time – Brittany replied with a smile, "One is for San and the other is for you, big baby." And she proceeded to hand one each, passing along the tray to Jimmy as well. Both took a sip of the blessed drink immediately. "I am too wired up as it is," she added casually, finally wrapping her arms flirtatiously around Santana's neck.
Not only was Brittany wired up because she flew all night from LA – where their last gig was at – under the influence of several energy drinks; she was also wired up with sheer desire to touch, kiss and do numerous indecent things to her fiancée.
"Hey, you…" Santana said sweetly, locking eyes with Brittany in an intense hold as she wrapped her free arm around the other woman's waist and pulled her impossibly closer. Her initial shock was gone and all it left in its wake was a love-struck grin.
"Hi…" Brittany replied softly, but her words were already caught in Santana's mouth as the brunette woman kissed her fiancée gently, unhurriedly, and painstakingly sweetly. The two of them got lost in each other as hands touched hair, cheek and neck with revered delicateness.
Seeing that he was being completely ignored, and would continue to be for sure, James said, "And that's my cue to leave... you know, before little Jimmy here decides to publicly embarrass me." No rise or acknowledgement whatsoever as Brittany and Santana carried on kissing in the middle of the sidewalk. "See, Britt doesn't seem to even mind that you didn't get you posh on, Lopez," Jimmy added jokingly, trying once more to instigate her. No response again. "Ok, I'm off," he continued with a laugh while taking a few steps away.
"Don't forget to use protection, ladies," Jimmy called out with amusement from some distance, already hailing a cab while receiving some strange looks from passers-by and – finally – a half-assed, mid-kiss flip-off from Santana.
The two women carried on kissing ever-so-tenderly – no tongue action, or maybe just a smidge – for a while longer, having gradually taken Brittany's old spot against the diner's building due to some deluded innate sense of privacy. Santana was doing her best not to drop the coffee cup in her hand since the kiss was rendering her a tad… lightheaded. After some more lip movements they broke the kiss with a pop sound and a dope smile took over their lips again. Brittany couldn't help but relish the familiar coffee laced taste of her fiancée's lips. She missed that, even not being a coffee-freak like Santana.
After a moment of just gazing into each other's eyes to take everything in, Santana broke the utterly comfortable silence. "I can't believe you're here," she said softly, shaking her head from side to side with amusement. And then she took a proper once over at Brittany. She looked as gorgeous as she remembered. Yes, it had only been four months – even less since she visited Brittany twice on tour – but they felt like four years to Santana. Brittany wore a pair of extremely dark washed skinny jeans and fabulous over-the-knee boots, paired with a black fitted leather jacket over a green blouse with Peter-Pan collar. Santana loved that blouse on Brittany. The particular shade of green of it appeared to give the dancer's already mesmerizing eyes this certain undefined mystic that made Santana slightly breathless. She wondered if Brittany chose the top on purpose. Actually, Santana didn't wonder. She knew Brittany did, and the notion made her heart flutter even more.
"Well, believe," Brittany all but husked back, holding Santana's stare but finally realizing she had a bunch of the fabric from the front of Santana's blue scrubs top balled up in a fierce fist. She let go of it with an impish smile followed by a chuckle. Santana quickly joined her with a laugh of her own as Brittany delicately smoothed out the wrinkles while the brunette took another swig of her coffee.
Yes, they were aware that they were acting like lovesick teenagers… but they did not care.
"Now let's grab a cab and go home, babe," Santana said simply, outstretching her right hand a bit as a silent offer for Brittany to take it, which the latter took without hesitation despite halting her fiancée's movement by staying rooted to their spot.
Santana shot her a confused look while feeling Brittany's fingers intertwine with hers. Perfect fit. "No, let's walk. It's such a lovely day…" Brittany replied with a smile still in place; they were having a hard time dropping the easy smiles.
It really was a lovely day. One of those mornings when the sky is all blue with no clouds and the early sun is shining down on the little people roaming the streets going about their little lives. Although the sun was really just for show; it didn't warm anyone, but the fact didn't put a damper on the niceness. And, in all honesty, the early morning air was rather chilly; but, again, nothing compared to New York's winter that wouldn't be upon them anytime soon, by the way.
"But it's too far, Britt," Santana reasoned lightly, mimicking Brittany's smile before sipping her coffee again. They weren't even in the same borough of their place.
Santana was right. Brittany's giddy state was messing with her thinking process, but she got back on track. "Let's take the subway then," she offered as some sort of compromise, slightly dangling their joined hands between them. The subway was a few blocks up. They could have a good walk until there.
"Alright," Santana replied with a wider smile. Seriously, her face was starting to hurt; especially since she hadn't been smiling a lot for, approximately, uh… four months.
"So, when did you get here?" Santana asked casually as they started their slow walk hand-in-hand.
"Oh, I just arrived. Only had time to drop my bags at home and come here," Brittany said easily as Santana worked on her coffee.
"You didn't have to meet me here, babe," Santana said in her sweetest tone, locking eyes with Brittany whilst walking. "You must be exhausted," she added with empathy.
Brittany merely uttered a dismissive scoff sound in response, which only made Santana, well, smile at her. Again.
"I'm serious, Bri–" Santana started to say with a tone that was anything but serious before Brittany cut her off.
"What Jimmy meant when he said you needed to get your 'posh on'?" Brittany asked with interest, eagerly changing the subject as she squeezed Santana's hand a bit to switch the brunette's attention to this topic.
After finishing taking another swig from her coffee cup, Santana answered with another question, "You were listening?" To which Brittany simply shrugged in response so Santana continued trying to sound as nonchalant as possible, "Well, I had this whole beauty day thing planned out to, you know, polish my look and woo you with my awesome body."
"Aww, San… You're such a romantic in cynic's clothing," Brittany purred, beaming as she sort of affectionately – and adorably – brought her other arm to hug Santana's mid-walk. The one connected to the hand Brittany was already holding.
"Yeah, yeah…" Santana shot back faux-dismissively. "Well, you kinda rained on my parade and now I look like shit, especially standing beside you looking like a freakin' goddess. Seriously, B, I don't know how you pull this off after spending the whole night in a plane. Anyways, I hate the graveyard shift!" She finished, enjoying the feel of Brittany pressed up against her side.
Brittany's smile graduated from small to wide as she listened to Santana's little rant. Shaking off of her daze she replied playfully, "Hey, that's my fiancée you're talking about!" And the word made her eyes immediately travel down to her finger that sported the reasonably new, sparkling engagement ring, and right after to Santana's that sported the same look. Her smile grew bigger, if that was even possible.
Santana failed to see the subtle looks as she chuckled slightly at Brittany's remark. God, she had missed the woman!
Shifting to her sweet – and alluringly low – tone, Brittany amended in earnest, "And you still are the most beautiful girl I've ever seen, San... No matter what you're wearing."
Santana was a bit taken aback by the comment. She looked sideways at the person who never failed to amaze and surprise her and didn't miss this time the fact that Brittany was looking at her as well. The look in her eyes was so filled with love and sheer adoration… Santana couldn't help but wonder how Brittany could still look at her the same after all these years together. She could only wish and endeavour to deserve that look forever and ever. So, she flashed Brittany her sweetest smile – the one reserved for the dancer alone – and just let her own eyes convey her deep appreciation. She knew Brittany would get her. She always did.
"Enough about me! Tell me about the tour. I wanna hear everything!" Santana broke their little moment as she spoke animatedly before finishing her coffee as they walked side-by-side with intertwined fingers.
Brittany let out a short laugh as she relinquished her hug on Santana's arm to straighten her body and finally walk properly. "I already told you everything," she said with pure amusement. They had talked every single day on the phone or the computer.
"I know, but in person is way better," Santana protested lightly, tossing her coffee cup in a passing garbage bin.
Brittany relented with a sigh. "It was awesome! Everything I could have expected and more," Brittany relayed with palpable joy dancing among her words.
Santana stole a quick look sideways and sported a brief little smile after noticing the sparkle in her fiancée's eyes due to unadulterated excitement.
"The lead choreographer was like, super talented, and he always let the dancers have some creative input in his routines whenever we had stuff that we felt was relevant to improve the numbers. Everyone, well, most of the dance crew was really sweet and fun. And the stage…" she took a rather dramatic pause in her passionate monologue, "…Being up there performing… It was so wonderful and such a thrill, San… I will never forget," Brittany finished with wistful passion, squeezing Santana's hand in reflex.
Santana smiled a bit brighter as their gaze met. She was really happy that Brittany was happy. "So, I think it's safe to say you had fun, huh?" She asked with some benign sarcasm while they turned a corner in an intersection.
"Yes, it was the best!" Brittany confirmed with a resolute statement, flashing her bright smile once more.
"Good!" Santana replied, utterly satisfied for her better half.
"And I know now that I'll never want to do it again," Brittany complemented her earlier statement, her tone and facial expression serene and sure.
Santana slowed down their already slow pace, her eyebrows furrowed with confusion. She directed her inquisitive eyes from the sidewalk ahead of them to Brittany before she asked worriedly, "Why? You just said you had a great time." If any of those artsy, pretentious dancers had done anything to taint Brittany's otherwise marvelous experience they would have to answer to her. Santana was not above tracking people down and giving them a piece of Lima Heights.
Brittany couldn't help but grin at the concern laced in Santana's tone. "And I did," Brittany confirmed without missing a beat to reassure her better half. The worried look did not leave Santana's face, though. So, Brittany elaborated softly and honestly, blue eyes locked with brown ones as the loaded words slowly left her mouth, "But I missed you like crazy, Santana."
That did Santana in. The worried look gradually morphed into an utmost soft one. Brittany thought to herself that if anything could ever be described as art in movement, that shift in looks played on Santana's face would be it. Absolutely, breathtakingly beautiful.
It spurred Brittany to keep going. "Once was definitely enough. I mean, it was fantastic and all but now I can say that I've been there, done that. Plus, it will be good for my career," Brittany said casually, sparing Santana a tight-lipped smile. "I just – I never want to be apart from you for long ever again," she finished simply and yet powerfully with assertiveness; changing the casual tone to the most assured she could muster.
They did not know exactly which one of them had halted their steps, or how and when, but they had certainly stopped walking and were facing each other. They were also holding both hands by then, fingers intertwined.
The silent stare down – drenched in several coy smiles, adoring looks, and hand caresses – was broken when Santana leaned forward to lovingly peck Brittany's lips. "Who's the romantic now?" She teased rhetorically with a little smirk playing on her plump lips, and Brittany had to really control herself not to ravish her right then and there in the middle of some random New York street.
They resumed their walk to the subway eventually. "So, now you have to tell me all the latest gossip around here," Brittany said with little consequence.
"You'd need a chair for that," Santana quipped instantly but quickly added, "Besides, I also already told you everything on the phone."
"In person is way better," Brittany threw Santana's own words back at her with a cheeky smile.
Santana just laughed while shaking her head with amusement. However, after a few more steps, she couldn't hold in all those amazing feelings anymore. So, still looking ahead instead of at Brittany, she said with emotion dripping from every single syllable, "I'm really happy you're back, B."
And then, with revered caution – as if she was about to gaze directly at the sun – Santana allowed herself to look at Brittany just as the subway entrance appeared in their vicinity. The smile she received was more than enough prize for allowing herself to say something that would certainly render her completely vulnerable. Brittany had always been the only one worthy of such risk and, in all honesty, Santana knew she would always be.
"I will always come back to you, San," Brittany instantly replied without any sort of apprehension, reservation or inhibition. Her ability to be so open was one of the things Santana loved and envied most about the woman who had managed to pry her way into the deepest confines of her well-guarded heart.
"Always," Brittany stressed with a huge grin plastered on her pretty face.
The dancer was ever surprised by the strength of her love for Santana. She was just so in love with the woman that it wasn't even funny. She had no doubts that Santana knew she loved her very much, but Brittany wondered if her fiancée actually had any idea how ridiculously much. Either way what she was certain of was the fact that she would spend every day of her life trying to make her see it.
Brittany tiptoed from the dining room into Santana's foyer. Her elbow throbbed from having banged it against the frame of the laundry room's small window as she did her best to slide in perfectly on top of the washing machine while sneaking into the house seconds ago. And her body was utterly cold from the amount of rain she caught from having frantically jogged all the way to Santana's place, despite having a perfectly useable car parked in her garage. However, as she climbed up the curved marble staircase leaving several droplets in her wake, Brittany didn't feel any of those things. Her thrill and adrenaline were running too high for her body to even begin to register said discomforts. She was a woman on a mission. Perhaps the most important mission she has ever been in, and all Brittany had in mind was her ultimate goal: Santana.
With that rather beautiful thought in mind Brittany reached the beautiful woman's bedroom's door. It was closed, though; and the dancer took a long, deep breath to steady her breathing, which she suddenly realized was quite ragged. Not a moment too soon she grabbed the door handle and opened up the door slowly whilst releasing the big amount of air in her lungs. The sight before her eyes brought a small smile to Brittany's lips: Santana was sound asleep on her usual side of the bed, that is, the left one. The sudden notion that some things never change – even if they were simple things – brought a sense of warmth to the dancer's insides that was very much welcomed at that crucial moment in time.
Brittany continued her tiptoeing across Santana's room with her bottom lip caught between her teeth in a sudden case of nerves. With a few steps she was hovering above Santana's sleeping form from her bed side. In the corner of her eye Brittany caught sight of Poppy sleeping on her dog bed by the closet door and she couldn't help but smile once again. Santana complained and complained about the dog but deep down Brittany knew she was a sucker for the cute Beagle just as much as their daughter. Well, perhaps that was a bit of an exaggeration, but still.
Shaking the thought, Brittany took in the features of the sleeping beauty in front of her as raindrops from her clothes and hair slowly sprinkled the hardwood floor. Santana's body was relaxed but Brittany noticed she was lying on her back, which was quite unusual for the brunette. The dark, plushy comforter was trapped loosely beneath caramel arms. Santana's face, though, her eyebrows to be precise, were the tiniest bit scrunched. For anyone else's eyes that wouldn't mean anything, but to an expert like Brittany she knew that something had been disturbing the sleep of the love of her life. She remembered when she and Santana first started living together; in the first night they promised each other never to go to sleep angry at one another. Suffice to say, a couple of months later that rule went to space, and whenever some silly argument occurred those lines between Santana's eyebrows as she slept were the result. Come to think of it Brittany probably sported the same look while she was sleeping as well. Only Santana would know. Anyhow, considering last night's events those lines weren't exactly a surprise. In that line of thought Brittany did not wish to delay her actions any longer. She sat down on the bed beside Santana's upper body with extreme gentleness and ran her fingers with utter tenderness across the upsetting lines. God, she missed being this close, being this… intimate with the other woman. She had been policing herself so, ever since Santana woke up...
Santana didn't even flinch. She kept sleeping soundly and in no time the lines were gone like it was the most natural thing for them to do. Brittany smiled a little wider and retracted her hand. Feeling bolder from Santana's reaction she leaned down, propping the weight of her body on one hand, which was firmly placed on Santana's firm mattress, and brought her other hand up to caress Santana's face with light fingers: her jaw, her cheeks, her chin, her lips… Still no sign of complaint from the brunette, who seemed to be enjoying the ministrations. Brittany then leaned on both hands, successfully hovering her face over Santana's, and began to drop feather kisses to Santana's forehead, to her left cheek, her right cheek, her little nose, her left eyelid, and then to the right one when Santana finally stirred – not from the kisses, but from the little drops of water that fell from Brittany's soaked hair and hit her face with each kiss – and began to rapidly blink half-opened eyes.
Seeing that she had successfully woken up Santana, Brittany pulled back just slightly; her face was still quite near the other woman's. She couldn't stay away any longer. Santana on the other hand adjusted her blurry, sleepy vision and realized that it was Brittany's face hovering over her.
"Brittany? Is that you?" Santana asked in a raspy voice, rubbing her eyes repeatedly to get rid of some residual blurring. She knew it was Brittany but she still asked, confused by the sudden appearance.
Not waiting for a response Santana promptly continued while propping her body on her elbows, causing Brittany to lean back a bit more, "What are you doing here?" The brunette quickly took a proper blurry-free gander at the woman sitting on her bedside and noticed her state. "Why are you all wet, and breathing so heavily?"
A hundred questions popped into Santana's head and she kept firing them before letting Brittany actually reply. "What time is it?" She looked sideways at her window and noticed that the first lights of day were already peeking through it, but it appeared to be still pretty early. And it was definitely raining. Had Brittany walked there? Was that why she was drenched? "Did you walk here in the rain?" Santana enquired in a baffled state, voicing her thoughts.
Brittany ignored all the questions that seemed unimportant and went for what really, truly mattered to her. "We're done. It's over," she said in an unknowingly confusing way with a pretty smile on her face as she pushed some wet hair out of her eyesight.
"What?" Santana asked with sheer confusion and eyes still semi-closed whilst rebalancing her upper body's weight on her elbows. Brittany was making no sense, and her head began to catch up with all the drinks she had last night. And then she actually remembered last night, her hard feelings for Brittany starting to make themselves known.
"Jenna and I... We're through," Brittany clarified offhandedly, even though she felt like it didn't need any clarification, and she couldn't help but lean forward towards Santana's face again while she spoke. She just wanted to kiss her so badly.
"What?" Santana asked again in the same tone, her eyes narrowing even more. She knew she sounded like a broken record but she was mighty confused and disoriented. Had Brittany just told her that she and Jenna were through? Her ex's hot breath hitting her face wasn't helping her obtain focus either. Wait, was she dreaming or something?
Brittany's breath hit her face again while the dancer repeated for a confused Santana's sake, "Jenna and I are over…" and Santana knew right then she wasn't dreaming. No dream felt that real. The thought was reinforced when she zeroed-in Brittany's sweet smile and felt her soft, pale hand against the skin of her shoulder as the blonde amended while leaning even more forward, "Now we can be together again."
Santana could not really precise whether it was Brittany's breath on her face, the smile on her lips, the hand on her shoulder, the words she had just spoken, or the fact that Brittany was gracefully leaning towards her… Probably a dangerous combination of all the above. All Santana knew was that her heart began to beat faster than it had in a long while. All of a sudden she felt familiar lips on her cheek, and then on her temple, and her already weak focus deteriorated even more.
Before she lost it completely, Santana managed to get herself together enough to ask while shaking her head to get rid of the stupor, "How, uh… What happened?" Her eyes fell completely shut as Brittany's lips moved to her neck, and her tone had been laced with restrained… joy? Could it be? Could it really be? All the while Brittany relished on the smell of Santana's neck as she eagerly nuzzled it. She missed that too. Terribly so.
"After last night I knew – I just couldn't go on… I couldn't carry on with everything, you know?" Brittany spoke in between tender pecks to the length of Santana's jaw. "I knew I had to end things…" she continued in an earnest tone that felt like music to the other woman's ears. Brittany then chanced a quick look at Santana's eyes and smiled against tan skin when she spotted them softly closed.
Santana simply hummed to egg Brittany on as she sat up properly. Her heart felt so light and jubilant… She was so glad that wasn't a dream. That would be extremely cruel.
"I knew I had to make things right," Brittany carried on after Santana's motivational sound, cupping a warm cheek as she continued with her kisses. After kissing an eyelid she proceeded absentmindedly, "So, early this morning I woke up and Jenna had her suitcase already packed, and we talked for quite a while," she kissed the other eyelid, "and decided –"
Something registered in Santana's brain with some delay due to the distracting kisses and her eyes shot brusquely open. "Wait, wait… What?" She cut Brittany off with confusion, blinking as fast as the words tumbled out of her mouth.
Brittany didn't promptly respond. She was just as distracted spreading kisses on every available patch of skin on Santana's face. Santana had no choice but to gently push her off by the shoulders. That got Brittany's attention. She already missed that skin.
"She already had her bag packed?" Santana asked directly, narrowing her eyes a bit but keeping her gaze locked on warm blue eyes.
Brittany didn't quite see her point, and she didn't really have time to dwell because Santana kept going. She took Brittany's silent confusion as a clear 'yes'.
"Brittany, did you end things with her… or did she end it with you?" Santana asked point blank, the edge on her voice painfully audible. That was the million dollar question for the brunette, and she unknowingly held her breath to wait for the key answer.
Brittany still didn't see the importance of this. And it was clearly important from the look on Santana's face, and from the sound of her voice. So, she did as best as she could to answer it while one of her hands rest casually on Santana's comforter-covered thigh, "Well, I think it was sort of mutual, I mean, she did already have her bag packed to leave when I woke up but –"
"I can't even…" Santana trailed off with exasperation while cutting Brittany off, one hand flying to her hot forehead. "You didn't leave her, did you?" She added, indignation dripping from each word. And then she didn't waste time to state matter-of-factly, "She left you." Her head began aching again and she instinctively pulled away from Brittany, successfully leaning her back against the bed's headboard.
"Why does it matter who left who?" Brittany countered promptly with scrunched up eyebrows, already missing the previous close proximity to Santana. "All that matters is that we can be together again," she added sincerely, unconsciously managing to scoot closer to Santana while brushing a few drops of water that ran down from her soaked hair off her eyes. Brittany knew she was repeating that over and over again, but it was the heart of the matter and she just couldn't contain her excitement over it.
Santana couldn't believe what she was hearing as she shook her head repeatedly. How could Brittany not see this? She bitterly mused inwardly. "Of course it matters!" Santana stated without missing a beat, slightly raising her tone of voice which previously had been somewhat rushed due to the time of day and her waking-up circumstances. "In fact, it's all that matters!"
How could Santana think like this? Brittany mused briefly as their eyes were locked in an intense gaze. It was all so crystal clear and unbelievably wonderful in her head. So, she shot back once more, "But we can –"
She didn't get to finish her repetitive sentence though, because Santana cut her off with even more exasperation and in an even louder voice, "No, we can't!"
The power and weight of Santana's statement made Brittany flinch, and she directed distraught blue eyes to her drenched lap. Their locked gaze felt like too much to handle. In a span of seconds the carpet had been swiftly swiped from beneath her steady two feet. It was indeed a dismal feeling: having one's sheer certainty taken away so… brusquely.
Santana kept going, fueled by her self-righteous indignation which was actually nothing more than plain wounded pride. Not that she would ever admit. "You must think I'm really pathetic," she said more to herself than Brittany, her tone back to its normal volume. The line was accompanied by a single dry chuckle that rattled Brittany out of her daunting stupor.
"Of course I don't. Why would I think that?" The broken dancer replied truthfully but baffled, meeting brown eyes full-on again. When had our conversation taken such an unexpected and awful turn? Brittany was having some trouble breathing properly. The walls seemed to have closed in on her after the harsh tumble from the enormous pedestal built by her earlier high expectations.
Santana had barely registered Brittany's words. She was too wrapped up in her own inner pity party for one. "Whatever it is you think, you have another thing coming," she said with a hint of bitterness, stoically holding the other woman's stare. What? It was hard not to feel bitter about the whole thing.
"I'm not your lap dog, Brittany. You can't just whistle after being dumped by your wife and expect me to run to your open arms. It's not fair." Pregnant pause. "It's not how it was supposed to go," Santana amended with less bite and more dejected honesty as she tried to call it like it was without actually calling it, her eyes softening considerably. Some things were better left half-spoken.
Brittany got what the other woman had inferred alright. The light bulb finally went on in her head. It all came down to pride, and she knew Santana had plenty of that. In hindsight perhaps it was a bit naïve of her to assume things would be that easy. If she had been having trouble breathing before it just got ten times worse with that sad notion in mind.
But she pushed it through, she had to at least try and… explain. So, with dignity and honesty Brittany maintained their direct stare and said softly, "I had to try, you know? I had to at least try to work things out. Give it a chance. I owned our marriage – I owned her that much…" The dancer looked away for a brief second, consciously trying to keep air running through her lungs. "But it's hard. It's hard when you don't belong… When you belong with someone else," she practically whispered while idly fussing with the comforter's fabric.
And they stayed there, despondently looking at each other in the eye for a loaded minute. Caught in a standstill... The worse thing was that, deep down, Santana understood. Perhaps – well, surely – not the situation, but she understood Brittany. Who she is; the woman's decency and character... But, at the same time, God damn it!
Brittany mustered the little breath she still possessed and chanced, "San… Why can't we –" But once again she was interrupted.
"You hurt me, Brittany," Santana spoke candidly in a sincere and gentle tone. The words hit Brittany with the impact of a moving train and once more she flinched. After a short pause she added, "Badly." Another short pause paired with locked eyes. It was almost overkill for the troubled Brittany.
"You broke my heart," Santana finished in a rare moment of demonstration of actual weakness and vulnerability; in her book at least.
And with those four words: overkill. Brittany felt claustrophobic. The air in the room disappeared. She just couldn't breathe. Hearing that from Santana's mouth…
Shaking her head constantly with vacant, lost eyes, she mumbled incoherently, "I – I can't… I have… breathe…" And she swiftly got up from bed and started to walk wobbly towards the bedroom door. That was not how her day was supposed to go. That was not how her day was supposed to go at all; Brittany thought as her world came crashing down on her.
Santana was also at a loss. It was raining outside and the departing woman before her was completely drenched. She didn't want to particularly continue that talk, but she couldn't just let her leave. At least not like that; in and into that state.
"Brittany, wait," Santana said from her place in bed, but Brittany kept moving and opened up the door. She needed air and she needed right then. "Brittany, for crying out loud…" Santana huffed a bit louder, getting out of bed when she saw that her calling out wasn't working.
The voices woke up Poppy, who darted towards Santana by the bedside as the woman put on her pink fluffy slippers – a Christmas gift from Zoey.
"Stay!" Santana ordered the Beagle while she followed Brittany out the bedroom. Surprisingly enough the dog obeyed.
"Brittany, stop. It's still raining outside," Santana soberly said as she continued following the blonde through the second floor's hallway. It fell on deaf ears. Frankly, Brittany was too frantic to listen to anything other than her rapid beating heart.
"Madre de Dios… You're soaking wet, Britt! You're gonna catch your death," Santana continued with freshly-found exasperation as both women trotted down the staircase.
The brunette was losing her little patience in face of Brittany's sudden silent treatment. She absolutely loathed those when it came to a certain blonde someone. The dancer was in the wrong and she still managed to act out on her. So, she unabashedly voiced her thoughts when they reached the foyer, "I don't know why you're acting like this. I mean, you chose this, Brittany. You chose her, and then you waited too long and now you're stuck with that choice..." millisecond pause "…Or lack thereof. We're both stuck with it now. It's not my fault."
Brittany had her hand around the front door's handle; she needed to respond to that accusation badly but she needed a whiff of fresh air the most, otherwise she was at risk of fainting right there at Santana's foyer. She was so lightheaded at the moment. So, opening up the door and catching some much needed air, Brittany turned around to Santana and shot back indignantly, "Why people –" She cut herself off with a shake of her head, but continued on another more pressing line of thought. "A choice? I didn't have a fucking choice, Santana!" Brittany finished loudly; the tips of her ears and neck all tinged in a pink flush.
And with that Brittany really needed air, as in all around her. And space, lots of wide open space to quell the ever-growing feeling of claustrophobia and hotness building inside of her. So, she left the house and stepped into the rain.
Santana stood there at the bottom of the stairs, wide-eyed and a little bit shocked with the outburst. Brittany rarely cursed. And when she said rarely she really meant rarely – excluding amidst moments of passion, of course. Really, Santana could count on one single hand the number of times she had heard Brittany utter a profanity in all the years they had spent together as friends and lovers. And she didn't even need all the hand's fingers to do so.
Shaking away the shock, Santana was left with only her own indignation, which was fuel enough to make her follow Brittany out in the rain. Clearly the brunette's state of mind had also flown out of the window.
"Of course you had a choice, Brittany!" Santana said just as loudly to Brittany's back. The other woman hadn't gone far. She just stood there directly in front of her ex-wife's door, breathing in deeply and getting washed down by the rain pouring from the sky. At least it wasn't raining as heavily as when she ran to Santana's place.
Brittany turned around sharply, a bit startled by the sudden voice. Santana stood just a few steps away from her.
"Stupidly enough I put myself out there… again… For you, Britt," Santana continued, speaking as frankly as her own reservations allowed her to while raindrops started to cling to her night clothes. Unsavoury flashbacks of the two of them having it at that exact same spot months ago were running through her head.
Crystal blue eyes held brown ones with attention. "You had me, and you had her in front of you… and you stayed with her. So, don't stand in front of me and tell me you 'didn't have a fucking choice', because you did. I didn't have one, and yet I kept choosing you. But now… now I have to choose me. You left me no other choice, Brittany," she concluded resolutely in one single breath before taking in another long, deep one to steady herself.
Brittany took a few steps forward and countered in a much calmer voice than before, "But I didn't have. Not anymore." She sighed and ran a hand through wet blonde locks before adding dejectedly, "By then I was married, Santana, and I had made a commitment… I couldn't just turn my back and walk away without at least trying. So, you see, you were no longer an option, San..." her blue icy eyes were so pleading, sad, honest, and wistful that Santana had to look away for a second, "…You just couldn't be," Brittany finished in a whisper as she managed to grab a hold of those dark orbs again to try to convey silently the 'Can't you see it?' question that was implicitly etched upon her very soul.
Did Santana comprehend it? Sure. Did she see and agree with it? Never. It was a weird thing… She and Brittany had been so on the same page about things through the many years they spent together that it was indeed weird not only for her but for both of them to experience this strange shift at that exact moment in time. And all it took was one glance towards Santana's eyes for Brittany to know that the other woman did not see it.
So, it didn't come as a surprise when Santana spoke with attempted-but-failed aloofness while petulantly, and characteristically, placing one hand on her hip, "Well, whatever you need to believe to help you sleep at night."
They fell silent for a short while as the rain was the only noise heard in the quiet neighborhood. It was really, really early in the morning and there was no sign of people movement outside the nearby houses. Thank God for small favours… But Brittany wasn't about to go down without a fight. This was too important to simply quit without saying everything it was needed to be said and discussed. All of this had been a long time coming.
"If it really is that important to you I really had already decided to end things with Jenna last night... When I kissed you," Brittany broke down the silence, taking another step towards Santana. They were face-to-face by then.
"Well, now we'll never know for sure, will we?" Santana countered immediately, wiping some intruding rain from her eye. The mention of the kiss only served to revive some angry feelings from the previous night.
"What do you mean?" Brittany challenged just as promptly, tone a bit perplexed but still reflecting the benefit of the doubt. Was Santana insinuating what Brittany thought she was insinuating?
Not one to mince words Santana replied honestly, "I meant what I just said: I'll never know for sure." And then, after receiving a sharp look from Brittany, she bitterly added for good measure, "Saying, or thinking, or whatever it is that you did, are completely different things from actually doing it, Brittany. How –"
It was Brittany's time to cut the brunette off. Santana had already managed to offend her with those doubting words. There was no need to keep going at it. "I am telling you that I had made up my mind. That's how you know for sure," Brittany said firmly, holding dark orbs in a fierce assertive manner. And then, after reigning over her indignation and without missing a beat, she concluded more softly, "You know we never lie to each other."
Brittany's words – and especially the look in her eyes – managed to knock some sense into Santana's thick head. Inside she knew them to be true… but she wasn't ready to drop the bone. That's just who she was.
"We never used to," Santana corrected plainly, changing her stance by crossing her arms over her chest and tilting her head up a bit. Typical self-defense pose for the brunette, Brittany couldn't help but note. "You sure lied right to my face yesterday," Santana continued with purpose.
Brittany sighed heavily whilst shaking her head and placing her own hands on each side of her hip. Santana was so, so, so stubborn... It was infuriating at times. And Brittany knew exactly what the other woman was referring to. Santana had made the same accusation last night.
"Like I told you last night I didn't lie to you, Santana," Brittany explained sincerely, trying to remain as calm as possible whilst her heart raced with anxiety. "I never regretted kissing you," she added, reinforcing the eye contact. She knew Santana knew her eyes never deceived. "I regretted not ending things properly with Jenna before doing so. And I would have told you exactly that if you had given me the chance instead of storming away all mad," Brittany amended, dropping her hands from her hips.
Santana held Brittany's gaze for as long as she could, which wasn't that much. God, those eyes… The brunette let her arms drop from her chest as well, she knew Brittany to be true. Deep down Santana had always known, despite the certainty being polluted at times by other less than agreeable feelings, like anger and frustration.
As the wheels in Santana's mind worked, Brittany finished in tandem with it, "I'd never lie to you."
Santana brought her eyes back up. "I know," she replied with frank conviction.
Silence yet again settled between them, but less heavy than before. Although a few bags have been cast into the ocean, there was no denying that the many others still onboard had that ship sinking. There was simply too much baggage to be ignored.
Besides, lying was not really the point.
So, Santana broke the silence with her gentle and wistful words, "I warned you, Britt..." She took a deep breath through the rain while running a hand through damp hair. She kept eye contact, though; she wanted her utter sincerity to show, too. "I told you to say what you really wanted. But you sat on your hands, and now…" she trailed off with sheer despondency, shaking her head almost in an imperceptive manner.
Santana didn't actually utter the ominous two words 'too late' back at that movie theater many moons ago, nor did she utter them now. And she didn't have to really. It was plenty implied and, again, some harsh realities are better left unsaid.
Brittany took that in. She really took that in. Suddenly it became all too clear to her that Santana had made up her mind. She would not budge. Breathing immediately became an issue yet again. Brittany knew the woman before her better than she knew anyone else in the entire world, and when Santana's heavy stubbornness met her unwavering pride… Suffice to say: it did not look good, in fact, that was it.
"So, that's it?" Brittany countered with a hint of despair in her voice, even though she was trying hard not to let it show through. And then she continued weakly, holding Santana's stare with so much love in her eyes whilst delivering one last desperate plea, "You're gonna let…" small disconcertment-induced pause "…timing keep us apart?"
It wasn't like it never happened before for them; bad timing, that is. In fact it happened a lot. When Brittany wanted Santana the brunette was so deep in denial that she denied Brittany; then, when Santana actually made an attempt to try and be real to herself and went after Brittany the blonde had to reject her because she was already with someone else. And then when they were both actually available, Santana yet again relapsed into the fear zone. Textbook screwed-up timing, even if it happened ages ago. However, one thing never wavered or altered throughout their mischances: Santana and Brittany had always remained deeply in love with each other.
Santana looked down again. At times like these she couldn't handle how Brittany looked at her. It had always puzzled the brunette how Brittany could always manage to still look at her like that after so many years.
Brushing the feeling off – it really had no place in a moment like that – Santana shrugged and replied dismissively with as much conviction as she could muster, "Sillier things have: stupid boys, stupid fears, stupid bleedings in the brain…" she hesitated a bit to deliver the next item, as she always did with low blows, but in the end nature always overthrew conditioning "…stupid morals…" Santana trailed on, facing hurt blue pools head-on. And it stung the brunette; but didn't make said things any less true or any less not stupid whatsoever, however you spun it.
The not-so-little zing hit Brittany harshly. Her heart sank with overpowering intensity. So that was that to Santana? She, Brittany, single-handedly ruined everything for them? The dancer wouldn't lie; the insistent repetition of that word she hated didn't help to soothe the blow either, and she couldn't help but be aware that Santana was also aware of that hurtful fact. It didn't surprise her though. Santana never did know quite how to pull back punches. Brittany was just unused to being the target. Frankly, she didn't like it one bit.
Everything really had gone so very differently from what Brittany had in mind when she took off running to Santana's… She felt desolated and couldn't help but state in a cracked voice, "But… I love you." It was a truth that seemed so tangible and indelible to her that Brittany couldn't comprehend why this whole thing was going south. It was like adding one to one and coming up with three. And she wasn't even good at mathematics, but even she knew this felt utterly wrong.
Santana's eyes softened again, and she was obligated by her body to take a deep breath. God, this conversation was hard… She loved Brittany, too. Brittany was actually the only person she had ever loved, and Santana knew that fact would remain the same for as long as she shall live. But she also didn't feel like saying that to the other woman at that particular moment. So, she opted for one of her many defense tactics: evasion.
"Love was never really our problem, was it?" Santana asked softly but matter-of-factly, her eyes still glued to Brittany's with fierceness. Because, even though she wouldn't say it back right then, she would never deny it either.
Brittany shook her head morosely; she felt emotionally spent, and yet she still managed to muster up a teeny tiny smile at the indirect love confession. Despite the circumstances it still felt really nice to know it – not that she had ever doubted it.
"No," Brittany replied weakly while still shaking her head, even though it had been a rhetorical question she felt the need to answer. When the other shoe dropped and Brittany perceived the other fact implied in Santana's speech, that love was always there but in that particular case it wasn't enough, she suddenly felt like crying, or pouting, or both… but she did none. She wouldn't do that to Santana. She would not be that woman. So, Brittany held on strongly and maintained the intense eye-contact. "Never," she concluded soundly, little smile long gone from thin lips.
Santana couldn't take the desolated look spread on Brittany's face anymore. She took a step forward, rendering the space between them truly small and Brittany's heart a mess of rapid heartbeats due to the closeness, and poured out, "You know, maybe this is for the best. Maybe with all this… stuff that's happening to us, the universe is trying to tell us something… maybe it's trying to tell us that this is not meant to be. That we're not really meant to be."
Talk about a cold shower. Once again that was not what Brittany was expecting at all.
"You don't believe that," Brittany countered matter-of-factly with slightly furrowed eyebrows and a tinge of indignation. There was just no way Santana truly believed that… nonsense.
However, Santana was on a roll within that particular train of thought. She barely registered what Brittany had said, but she did register it on some level. The brunette's rationalization had overtaken her rationality, though. Reason and truth were a bit hazy at that moment.
So, Santana continued resolutely, her eyes not locked on blue orbs any longer as her 'epiphany' took off, "Maybe the real reason why the powers that be ever got us together was to create Zoey. Maybe that was our purpose." Santana nodded at her own words whilst Brittany shook her head. "I mean, I can think of lots of less perfect and amazing destinies than our little girl, can't you?" She finished soundly, satisfied with her conclusion as brown eyes landed on Brittany's troubled ones again.
Ignoring the question, Brittany shot back with real indignation that time around, "And you've never believed in destiny either." Softening her tone, she added in question, "Where is this coming from, San?"
It was Santana's turn to be taken by surprise. She thought that she had made perfect sense. And all of a sudden some mild irritation started to bubble inside her at Brittany's words. She really hated when people tried to tell her how she felt, or what she believed in. So what if she had repeatedly said in the past that stuff like destiny was complete bullshit? That everyone makes their own fate but refuse to own up to it when things go downhill? Can't a person change her mind? Speculate a bit? Seek some reasoning to all this crap? God, sometimes she hated how Brittany knew her too damn well!
So, Santana shrugged in annoyance for good measure and opened up her mouth to reply, but remained caught in that position as Brittany beat her to it.
"You know what? It doesn't really matter," Brittany said calmly and softly, holding up a hand to further convey her words while shaking her head. It was the blonde's time to experience her own epiphany. "Because the way I see this… The way I see all this 'stuff that's happening to us' – as you put it – is just the complete opposite of how you see it," Brittany continued in the same tone, holding Santana's reluctant and confused gaze as a small wistful smile played on her lips. "I think this is finally my chance for a do-over," she concluded in a hopeful intonation.
"I don't know what you mean," Santana replied offhandedly, placing one hand on her hip with exasperation. Brittany was making no sense whatsoever right after having had the nerve to shoot down her flawless reasoning seconds earlier.
"Deep down I always regretted not waiting," Brittany practically whispered earnestly, looking briefly at her colourful sneakers but ultimately managing to maintain their gazes locked. "Especially after that phone call… God, I'll never forget that exact instant I was standing in the kitchen making Zoey's snack for school and they called me to say you had woken up, San," Brittany continued in an emotionally charged whisper.
They remained locked in that sincere silent stare for a while. Not that they weren't used to it, but so much was being exchanged with that single look that Santana had to take a big dry swallow. And just then she firstly realized that Brittany was wearing her Columbia t-shirt. Again, it wasn't something new. Ever since she gave it to the dancer Santana had seen her wearing it numerous times but, right at that moment, she felt a most wrenching tightness in her chest area... More precisely in her heart. Yes, for those who doubted it, she clearly had one; the thought breezed through her mind.
"I never blamed you for that, B," Santana finally managed to utter in the same gentle tone as Brittany had spoken seconds ago, making the blonde's heart swell at the use of the nickname.
And it was the absolute truth. She never blamed Brittany for trying to carry on with her life, for trying to find some happiness when everything severely indicated that she wouldn't wake up. Come on, after she woke up she had seen her medical file; she had gone over all the scans and data more times than she would ever let anyone know. Her being here, and fully functioning at that, was nothing shorter than a miracle. One that Santana still found herself losing sleep over every once in a dark day just… wondering why.
Santana did blame Brittany though for not taking her back when she did wake up, but that was already said, done, and discussed… They just would never see eye-to-eye on the matter.
"But I did," Brittany countered without missing a beat; the weight of her words, and the sheer conviction on her tone of voice made Santana's heart clench rather unpleasantly.
Brittany knew they would never see eye-to-eye on that, but this? This was the thing that kept pulling down at her heart, this was the thing that had always lingered on the back of her mind eating at her, and she just had to bear it all out. It was right then… or never, and the latter wasn't really an option for the woman who has always carried her heart on her sleeve.
"I lost hope," Brittany continued heavily, letting her eyes stray a bit to the floor due to an awful mix of embarrassment and regret. "I believed in what they said about you not waking up and I lost hope." She swallowed dryly, eyes back on soft brown orbs.
"But you have to understand, right after your surgery…" Brittany shook her head slightly, emotions getting too high as her ramble got broken by them. "I was… a mess, San. A total mess..." She emitted this eerie little chuckle. "I barely went to our apartment. I spent every hour at your bedside just holding your hand, and everything felt really surreal. I couldn't believe or even register properly that that awful thing was happening to us. Us. I didn't feel like eating, I couldn't sleep more than a couple of hours a night, people kept talking to me but I couldn't assimilate what exactly they were saying… Our parents and friends were really, really worried," she continued softly, taking a short breath as Santana attentively hung on her every word. "I didn't want to tell you any of this before. I didn't want you to have to see this bleak picture, but a part of me can't shake this feeling that you think that I just up and left you. That I didn't feel absolutely destroyed and –"
Santana was a bit taken aback by the opening of Brittany's floodgate. Taken aback and filled with… empathy. From the looks of it, and from her extensive knowledge of all things Brittany, she knew the woman's need to speak had reached a boiling point of no return. However, she simply had to interject.
"I don't think –" Santana cut her off in a slightly louder and resolute voice. But didn't she? In the deepest parts of her, didn't a wee seed of doubt dare to want to germinate despite of better reason?
Brittany was having none of that, though. She needed that out, too; perhaps not only for Santana's sake, but for her own as well. Perhaps saying it out loud would also annihilate her own ludicrous little seed.
"Jimmy had to carry me out of your hospital room because I wouldn't leave… literally carry me out of there one evening," Brittany softly continued her sad rambling account, her voice surprisingly calm and even. Some things like certainty and purpose always show through people's tone. "John told my parents I was clinically depressed. Like you needed to be a psychiatrist to see that," she added with contrived amusement, making Santana wince beyond her will but still holding that piercing blue gaze.
A silent moment passed between them as Brittany rapidly blinked her eyes like those dreadful memories were actually flashing before them, and maybe they were. But she had to drive her point home. She needed to.
"I think they discussed putting me on anti-depressants despite the pregnancy but, as out as I may have been, I would never do anything to risk our baby," Brittany added genuinely. Santana felt her hand rising on its own accord, with full intent to cup a pale cheek. She caught herself in time, though, letting it fall limp back to her side.
"And it was because of her that I forced myself to push through. I needed to. She was you, S… and she was me, too. She was us," Brittany stated with conviction and a little bittersweet smile on her lips, "So, I ate when I didn't feel like it, and I slept when sleep was the last thing on my mind, and I swam back up. Because that was what it felt like; I felt like I was floating at the bottom of the sea. Numb to the world. But Zoey was up there at the surface. She completely depended on me. I wouldn't fail her. I wouldn't fail you. I couldn't." She shook her head morosely. "So, I swam back up," Brittany repeated herself.
"But what I didn't quite realize at the time was that I lost something on the way to the surface. I lost it, San. I don't know, it must have fallen from my pocket or something," she continued in Brittany fashion, but Santana got her and it made the brunette gulp dryly. "All I know is hope was not there anymore," Brittany began to drive her point home with loaded candidness.
"Britt, I…" Santana tried in a weak tone, but she didn't know what exactly she wanted to say. So, the words naturally trailed on in the humid air of the early raining morning.
"It's okay, it's okay, San," Brittany talked over Santana's attempt to form a sentence, the little smile back to her pink lips. "Like I was saying this is my second chance. This is as close to a time machine I'll ever get," she joked with a weak chuckle. "I lost hope back then, but I won't do it again this time…" She shook her head to reinforce her speech.
Santana watched her with sudden enlightenment. Right at that instant she got it. The whole thing clicked in her head. She knew where Brittany was going with that.
"I'll wait for you Santana," Brittany said with so much… love and conviction that Santana's heart began to beat really quickly despite her will. "I should have done it back then. I shouldn't have listened to anyone…" Brittany added a little bit louder due to momentum, and she fought with all she had not to cry. Again, she wouldn't be that woman.
"I should have known you would come back to me, because I'd always come back to you, too," Brittany earnestly finished her winded speech with a wistfulness that cut deep, and then took a deep breath. "So, I'll wait for you, San," the dancer couldn't help but repeat for good measure.
Santana would be lying if she said Brittany's little monologue didn't get to her. It did, and she had to take several deep breaths throughout it. However, this was where they stood and no matter how both of them had things they wished they would have done differently… they did not. And her pride was bigger than words.
"I wouldn't wait if I were you," Santana replied after a few seconds, and it came out snappier than she intended, so she amended quickly and much softer, "I wouldn't, Britt." Her eyes plummeted to the ground, unable to see the consequence of her words on Brittany's eyes.
"But I will," Brittany countered calmly and 100% surely. Her eyes weren't hurt. No matter what Santana said Brittany was certain of her stance. This time around no one would persuade her otherwise, not even her ex. She wasn't about to make the same mistake twice. People always thought she was stupid, but she sure learned her lessons.
"I'll wait forever for you," Brittany stated with sheer certainty, driving brown eyes to blue ones.
Santana was surprised to see conviction instead of hurt on the other woman's gaze, let alone the little smile that crept on Brittany's lips. It threw her off-balance for a bit, but she recovered quickly. She was a Lopez after all, and they always did.
"Don't," Santana reiterated, but it came out weak and half-assed to her dissatisfaction. But, at least, she managed to speak up. It was enough for her at the time considering her inner turmoil of feelings. And it was common knowledge that feelings were never her forte.
Brittany could clearly sense Santana's torn state; how the brunette was battling against what she really wanted, and what who she was commanded her to want. Santana's complexity, despite its downsides, never failed to amaze and enchant Brittany.
So, a moment of introspective silence fell on both of them.
Brittany broke it though. "You may hate me now, but I'll remember to love you," she softly said with a wry smile, toying with the hem of her Columbia t-shirt. Memories of yesterday flooding her mind once again, especially that haunting tune Santana sang and those brown eyes… that had been so filled with anger and raw emotion. The dancer's heart ached at the thought.
"I don't hate you," Santana genuinely replied ever-so-softly, locking their gaze to convey pure sincerity. Her sharp edge dropped immediately at Brittany's erroneous deduction. "You are my best friend, my baby Mommy..." she playfully added with a charming smile. It makes her dimple show to Brittany's inward delight. "I could never hate you, Britt-Britt..." The sweet nickname that hadn't been used in the longest time by Santana touched Brittany to the core.
"Not for this, anyway," Santana amended, because she didn't want to be untruthful. After all, she could hate Brittany if the woman ever did something deliberately and unapologetically to hurt her. Which the brunette knew, in reality, would never ever happen. Said behaviour just wasn't Brittany.
They exchanged a tight-lipped and comfortable smile, despite its tired nature. Brittany felt like a huge weight had been lifted from her weary heart; Santana's harsh eyes directed at her last night really left her feeling… awful.
"We'll be fine, you'll see. All we need is time…" Santana continued in a reassuring tone.
"I'll give you all the time you need," Brittany shot back instantly, meaning every single word as she held the other woman's gaze. Smile still in place. Their standoff was intensely soft at that moment.
Santana wasn't exactly finished though. "And space," she offhandedly added to her previous sentence. "That's why I decided to actually go ahead with the move to New York in the first place," she continued calmly, simplifying to an extent her thought process from the previous night.
Brittany felt like a hard punch had been directly delivered against her stomach. The air was completely… gone from her lungs; her smile instantly dropped like a hot piece of coal. Plus, to top it off, her heart began to thud, thud, thud like crazy.
"You're still going?" She managed to ask faintly, her eyes rapidly blinking several times with shock. She actually had meant to say 'really' instead of 'still'. Freudian slips always had a way to take you down.
"Of course," Santana countered in a clipped voice, brows furrowed slightly. Brittany's question clearly irritated her.
"B-but why?" Brittany stuttered barely above a whisper. "You don't have to anymore. Jenna and I –" she tried to reverse that terrible decision.
Santana cut her off immediately. The sound of that woman's name amplifying her irritation. "You know that's not the point, Brittany. Surely you must know that," she said flatly, tucking a stray strand of dark hair behind her ear. That's when she realized it wasn't raining anymore. Sometime along their conversation it had stopped. She didn't even know exactly when.
Brittany found Santana's eyes and she just felt… desolated. Completely, and utterly, desolated. Her so-called-plan from last night clearly had failed in all levels, even in the most elementary one. She swallowed with difficult; her mouth suddenly very dry.
Taking in Brittany's stunned look and involuntary silence, Santana continued more softly with the need to elaborate. "I miss New York, I miss our friends, and my real job…" she listed the less consequential things, softening the real blow. "Last night…" Santana faltered, taking a deep breath to calm her and gain courage as Brittany watched her with utmost attention, "…Last night really scared me. I was really angry, Britt. I told you a while back that I don't want to be that person anymore. I said I would try to stay here, but I can't. I was right; it only brought out the worst part of me. I should have just moved to New York back then." She locked eyes with the dancer after having looked everywhere but those ocean orbs.
"Trust me, it will be the best for Zoey and for us," Santana finished in a gentle emotional tone.
Breaking their locked gaze, Brittany replied weakly while looking to the ground to avoid spilling her welled up tears, "I disagree with you."
"I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree, then," Santana stated earnestly, unconsciously placing one hand on her hip for some sort of support. "We leave by the end of this semester," the brown-eyed woman added, making Brittany wince at the pronoun used.
Riley would graduate from her nursing course mid-year, and she had already given her notice at Flame, the club she worked at. The redhead was ecstatic that Santana had finally decided to join her on the move to New York.
"I'm giving Richard my notice first thing tomorrow. I know it's early, but it will take him a while to find someone else suitable for the job. He has been so great to me… he deserves the courtesy. When I was back in New York the guys said I was always welcome to get back to the practice. Even if it was just lip service I'm sure I can find somewhere else to work at…" brief pause to breathe, "…And I'll see what Jimmy's new lady friend can find me on the real estate market. I'll call him tomorrow to set it up with her. I know it's short notice, so I won't be able to be too picky but, uh, I'll be happy with any two-bedroom she can track down, you know, Zoey must have her own room. And it has to be in the city, of course," Santana rambled on as she shifted her weight between both feet, feeling nervous all of the sudden for some reason.
Brittany tried to steady her frantic heartbeat by taking big, deep breaths through her nose. Santana really was going through with that… She pondered sadly. Once the woman put something in her head there was no turning back. Santana was that stubborn, and Brittany knew it.
It wasn't raining anymore. Brittany hadn't even realized it before then. After yet another short and introspective moment of silence, Brittany came back down from her conflicting thoughts and feelings.
"Are you two going to live together?"
"No, no," Santana replied twice, shaking her head repeatedly. She shouldn't feel this uneasiness inside whilst doing it, and yet she did. She owed the blonde absolutely nothing on this regard. God damn me! Came to Santana's mind. She pushed through it, adding with some self-induced irritation, "This isn't about me following her, or she following me. She was headed to New York before we even met. I think she's living with one of her brother's sister-in-law or something like that."
Brittany couldn't help the relief that immediately washed through her body, whether it was her place or not to feel it.
Gathering her courage Brittany managed to ask the question that burned through her mind, body and soul in a steady – but undemanding – voice, "Do you love her?"
Feeling like she needed – scratch that – owned herself, really, to spell the name, Brittany expanded, "Riley." It did not taste good in her mouth.
None of this was about Riley. It never was about Gemma either. Didn't Brittany see that? The brunette sighed heavily.
Santana merely narrowed her eyes a bit, and fixed a pointed gaze towards those blue eyes before her. Brittany always did have some nerve, that was for sure… but she also always did know better than that. She knew the answer to that question and Santana didn't feel like entertaining her ex at that particular moment. So, she let her eyes do the whole talking and, apparently, Brittany got it. Not that Santana ever doubted she would. They had spoken silently through stares for too many years to lose the ability then.
Brittany wasn't ready to let up, though. "Are you happy?" She asked in the same tone. It was some sort of morbid curiosity that she didn't know how to turn off.
This time Santana promptly countered, her voice poised with a lifetime of practice and her head held a bit higher on instinct, "I'm happy enough." It wasn't a lie, it wasn't the truth… She had always been a master at word-play.
Brittany didn't buy it (who was the liar there, huh?), but she didn't call Santana out on it either. Perhaps because guilt still ran a little through her veins. However, despite the fact that her plan had been shot down to a pulp, her recently reacquired hope didn't fail her, drowning any other shit that dared to course through her blood vessels alongside from it. The feeling was ever-so-empowering. No time or space in the world held a candle to her hope.
"Besides, nobody dies of broken hearts," Santana cynically amended with less sass, feeling a bit taken aback by Brittany's lack of response thus readily covering the silence with that topic's rehashing. Maybe she wasn't ready after all to let that one go, or maybe she was. Santana wasn't very sure at that instant.
"We'll survive…" the brunette added candidly – but still cynically – for good measure, unwilling to bear any more uncomfortable dead-air.
"I know. I know that…" Brittany said simply, with a conviction that overflew through her eyes. And with a genuine wise nature that was just so… fucking typical of Brittany she amended softly, with a wee hint of a hopeful smile playing on her pink lips, "But, don't you want to live?" Tiny pause filled with overcharged air. "Don't you want to really live again, San?" Because Brittany so desperately craved that: to have her life – her real life that she loved so much – back.
Wow, that really got to Santana. It always amazed her how damn… emotionally acute her wife, ex-wife, actually was. So, right there with their gazes locked, Santana shifted her weight back and forth between two feet with a heavy heart at what she had to say.
"I'm afraid this is the best I can do under the circumstances, Britt," Santana said tiredly, consciously evading the real question.
Brittany nodded slowly several times, taking the rebuttal oh-so-graciously. Despite the big 'ouch' moment she kept the little hopeful smile on her lips, which Santana was very grateful for.
A comfortable silence took them by the hand as they digested everything and nothing at once. It appeared like there was nothing left to say.
But (unfortunately?) it wasn't quite the case.
"I – I, huh…" Santana began a bit choppy, suddenly feeling slightly distracted by Brittany's gorgeous eyes. Why did the woman have to have such a mesmerizing and piercing blue stare? It wasn't really fair on Santana. She briefly wondered if it would be too weird to ask Brittany to look the other way for a while. Yeah… it would definitely be weird; she gathered just as the thought passed through her mind.
Shaking the idea off, Santana continued her broken speech, "Actually, I – I have to ask you something, B." At least she managed to hold the feared stare.
Moving her body the tiniest bit forward, Brittany replied with confidence, "Anything. You know that."
Jesus, it still felt so, so nice to hear that; Santana immediately thought… but dismissed it just as quickly whilst her eyes drifted briefly to her driveway's floor.
Looking the dancer square in the eyes, Santana uttered point-blank the words she had been dreading to speak, "I need you to let me let you go."
It was the last thing that Brittany expected to hear. And, frankly, she did a crappy job at disguising the hurt look that took over her features. Because, it hurt… Those words hurt really badly. But, yet again, she picked herself up and tried to keep her present serene state of mind. Despair never did her any good. Again, she had learned.
Santana flinched at Brittany's passing painful expression. This hurt her too; she wanted to tell the dancer. It would be pointless and futile though. She knew that, so Santana didn't. The truth of the matter was that she didn't need a pretty boy with a ukulele to teach her that you always hurt the one you love.
Brittany was about to respond but Santana, taking the blonde's silence, beat her to it as she amended softly and frankly, "It's the only way all of this will work." It was a rare moment of display of vulnerability from the brunette, and she crossed her tan arms across her chest reflexively.
"I don't think I know how to, San," Brittany said just as softly and just as frankly, scratching her colourful sneaker against the driveway's floor. "Because I myself never did, you know." She paused a bit as their eyes exchanged something rather hard to describe. "Despite… everything, I never did let you go. And I don't think I ever will." Brittany punctuated her sentence with a nervous and bittersweet little chuckle.
Santana took a slow, deep breath in sympathy. Why did that – all of that – have to be so fucking hard? And, sympathy aside, what was she supposed to reply to that? Man, Brittany couldn't say stuff like that to her right then! Not right then.
Brittany sensed Santana's disposition. So, she continued evenly, "I'll give you time... I'll give you all the time you want, S. And, even though I don't agree with you, I'll try to give and respect the space you need, too. I can't promise you I'll succeed, and I won't say it won't be hard, but I'll do my best. For you."
Brittany again fought the tears that dared to well up in her eyes at the grandiosity of the moment. There were just so many emotions coursing through her body. But her hope was what kept her steady. She'd wait for the love of her life; this was her second chance, and she wouldn't blow it.
"Thank you," Santana said sincerely while uncrossing her arms, putting her previous frustration on the back burner for the moment.
"I'm still not giving up, though," Brittany blurted out quickly, afraid that she could have been misunderstood. "I'll wait for you, Santana," she added with determination and a welcomed sense of righteousness.
"I heard you the first time, Britt," Santana replied promptly, bringing her frustration back to front and center. However, despite herself, the brunette felt some warm and fuzzy feeling gathering around her heart at that notion. Obviously, Santana ignored it with every fiber of her being. She wasn't the type of woman who allowed herself to be burned twice. "And, like I said, you shouldn't," she carried on for her own inner-benefit.
"I don't care. I will. I won't lose hope, because you're here right in front of me. Walking, and talking, and… I will wait forever," Brittany shot back resolutely. She could be stubborn, too, you see.
An awkward silence fell upon them. There really was nothing left to say at the moment. Really.
Feeling uncomfortable, Santana broke it. "I should…" she trailed off, pointing her thumb back towards the house to indicate what she meant.
"Yeah, yeah, sure…" Brittany said while nodding with a contrived little smile on her thin lips. "I should also, huh, go to Zoey at my parents," she completed awkwardly.
"Do you need a ride, or…" Santana trailed off with uncertainty, rubbing at the back of her neck.
"No, no, I'm good," Brittany dismissed it with a weak wave of hand. "It stopped raining now," she chuckled nervously, "I'll walk. You know it isn't far."
Santana nodded absentmindedly. She made no protest about it. Nothing along the lines that Brittany would catch a cold or her death walking around on soaked clothes. It was a little thing, but the dancer unfortunately noticed.
The brunette woman shot Brittany a final tight-lipped ghost of a smile, and turned around headed to her house. Let Brittany watch her walk away for once. After a couple of steps, though, she heard the dancer's voice.
"My heart broke, too, you know?" Brittany said tenderly and matter-of-factly to her ex wife's back.
Santana turned her neck to steal a glance at Brittany just in time to catch this… killer wistful wry smile on the blonde's lips. Santana didn't say anything, though. She didn't doubt it. In fact, she bet it did. But it still didn't change anything. So, she knowingly nodded a couple of times and resumed her short walk to her house.
Brittany, standing completely still, watched intently the other woman go until Santana entered the house. Then, she sighed, turned around, and started walking slowly to her parents' place. I will turn this around, I will turn this around… she kept repeating in her mind, but it didn't quite stop her heart from sinking in the most gut-wrenching way. This did not turn out the way she thought it would. At all. But she would fight.
Meanwhile Jenna stood in front of the door of a small house with her suitcase by her feet. She was mustering up enough courage to knock. It was a really indecent early hour of the day. Finally having gathered up enough nerve, she knocked three times in a row and waited. Seconds passed – that felt like hours in her shaken up state – and nobody answered; so, she knocked the same number of times again. A little louder, though. A minute later she heard a key twisting on the lock and a sleepy-looking Paula opening the door seconds later.
Rubbing her eyes vigorously to adjust her blurry vision, the chubby brunette fixed her gaze on her distressed friend. Jenna had really red eyes and nose; it was clear that she had been crying.
"Jenna?" Paula rhetorically asked in a rough voice. "What happened? What are you doing here at this hour?"
Just after she said that she noticed the suitcase by the blonde's feet. Her mind was still impaired by its abrupt awakening, but she started to guess the real story there.
"Brittany and I – we're…" Jenna failed to complete her sentence, being taken over by a stream of sneaky tears. "I've moved out. My marriage, it's –" she still couldn't really say it.
Paula, however, did not need to hear anymore.
"Oh, Jenna," she replied softly and sympathetically, placing an arm over her friend's shoulders and ushering her inside, closing the door behind them.
Jenna dropped her suitcase near the entrance before both women silently started to make their way towards the slightly beaten-down couch. They slowly sat down and Paula decided to break the heavy silence while Jenna rubbed her eyes trying to get rid of the tears.
"Do you want to talk about it?" Paula asked in a low voice.
The green-eyed woman sort of ignored the question, and posed one of her own, "Can I crash here? It will only be for a while, until I figure stuff out."
"Of course. For as long as you need to," the brunette replied promptly, soothingly stroking her friend's knee in comfort.
She waited some time to see whether Jenna would answer her former question, but she didn't. So, the shorter woman felt the need to ask.
"Jenna, should I call your sponsor?" Paula enquired in the less judgmental tone ever. She knew about her friend's history, and she also knew that situations exactly such as those were ideal triggers for slips. She didn't want that for her friend. Not at all.
"No," Jenna replied without missing a beat, finding Paula's dark gaze for the first time since they had sat down.
"Are you sure?" Paula asked softly, holding the stare.
"No," Jenna conceded in defeat, lowering her gaze to her lap again. She didn't feel like she would relapse. In fact she was certain of it, but she has had that disease for a long time and she knew better than to underestimate it. Better safe than sorry. Always.
"Alright. I'll give him a quick call. Just wait for me a sec, ok?" Paula said still in a hushed tone, offering her friend a tight-lipped smile as she departed to her kitchen to make the call. She knew Jenna's sponsor. Lyle had become a good friend over the years she had known the blonde.
True to her word as fast as she went she came back, bringing a glass of water to calm her friend. Or so she hoped.
After handing the glass over, and assuring Jenna Lyle would be right over, Paula asked again, "So, ready to talk about it?"
"Something happened and… I just couldn't ignore it anymore," Jenna spoke frankly after taking a long gulp of the clear liquid.
"Ignore what?" Paula asked with confusion.
"That she didn't love me anymore," the blonde clarified despondently, yet bluntly. She thought of adding 'or ever', but that was too much truth to display even for a straightforward person such as herself.
"Did she cheat on you?" Paula couldn't hold her question.
"Then what 'something' happened?"
"It wasn't just one thing," Jenna said and sighed right after, running a hand through her hair before chugging down the rest of the water. "I guess yesterday was just the last drop, and I finally saw what I've been trying not to." And once you see something… there's no unseeing it, try as you may.
Jenna didn't let her finish. "You can't make someone love you," she told her friend dryly, locking their gaze again before placing the glass on the floor; there was no coffee table. "You just can't," she added more for herself than for Paula, feeling tears begin to well up in her eyes again despite her wishes. Because, the truth was, she had been the fool who tried to.
Paula slung an arm across Jenna's shoulders again as she cooed, "Everything will turn out fine. You'll see." The woman wasn't entirely sure though. She could have sworn that Jenna and Brittany would wind up fine a few months ago as well, and look at how that turned out. But she was a good friend and she would try anything to make sure her words would come true.
After a few seconds Jenna rested her head on Paula's shoulder and let the tricky tears fall freely.
Brittany absentmindedly fumbled with the flower pot by her parents' back door until she got the hidden key underneath it, making her way into their kitchen as quietly as she could. It was still really early. She immediately got rid of her soaked colourful sneakers and kicked them to the side with a weary sigh. The kitchen was dark and quiet as expected, so she made her way to the living room with the objective to go upstairs and check on her kid. She yearned for their daughter for some reason. Yeah, right, some reason.
Entering the living room she was surprised to find her Mom in sleeping clothes calmly reading a book by the side window. Not that she should be really surprised – Annie was a morning person after all – it was just that Brittany was really distracted and in her own head after that long, unsuccessful talk with Santana.
Annie instantly felt someone else's presence and brusquely lifted her eyes from the book, spotting her eldest daughter by the staircase.
Seeing Brittany's drenched state, Annie took off her reading glasses and marked the page she was at with it before placing the book on the little side table. "Brittany? What happened, dear?" Annie asked whilst getting up from the armchair, walking towards the younger blonde.
Brittany swallowed the lump that still resided on her throat and began to ramble incomprehensibly, "Jenna left, but yesterday evening I had already made up my mind, and then – San said I should… It was too late, I was too late, but I had already –"
Annie gently cut her daughter's broken words as she got near her and really saw her soaked state, "Go take a shower, Britt. You'll make yourself sick. Come back down after and we'll talk." Annie had an idea of what really went down. As a mother she knew it would happen sooner or later. She just wished it had better results, which apparently did not.
Brittany subtly nodded and Annie couldn't help but see the mixed emotions in her daughter's crystal blue eyes. The colour looked exactly like Annie's late dad, the older woman fondly reminisced.
The dancer obediently made her way upstairs, taking two steps at a time. Yes, Brittany was hopeful about the whole situation with Santana but, still, it was tough.
When she passed by her old room Brittany saw Zoey sleeping soundly on her former bed. It brought a smile to her lips. She entered the room without hesitation, her footsteps making no sound due to her delicateness and bare feet. Brittany smiled even wider at the closer sight of the girl: half uncovered with very rosy cheeks (she always twisted and turned a lot in her sleep) and dressed in her blue Chelsea FC pyjamas (a gift from her fanatic-for-real-football Uncle Jimmy). Despite the girl's tossing though, Rainbow was securely held by her little arm. Covering her properly, Brittany leaned down – mindful to not let any raindrops fall on the kid – and pressed a feather-like kiss on Zoey's pale forehead before exiting the room towards the bathroom.
Twenty minutes later Brittany was back downstairs clad in dry clothes of her own. She always left some items at her parents' place for emergencies such as those. Annie, already changed into normal clothes, was waiting in the living room for her with a cup of hot tea ready for her kid. Brittany smiled thankfully and grabbed the welcome warm mug from the coffee table while sitting beside her Mom.
"Hmm… thanks, Mom," Brittany said after taking a cautious sip, passing over to Annie her bunched-up drenched clothes. "Will you wash them for me?" She asked in a low tone. The last thing she wanted was for her Columbia t-shirt to get all moldy while waiting to be washed in the hamper.
Annie merely nodded, taking the items through the kitchen; where, a little far to the right, she had a laundry closet. Moments later she was back at Brittany's side on the living room couch.
"So?" Annie tenderly prompted in a voice barely above a whisper. Maybe it was the early hour, or the other two people who still slept upstairs, but both of them kept their tone low.
Brittany watched her Mom from over the edge of her mug for a few seconds, and then she told her everything. Play by play, without letting out anything.
Annie listened intently, asking questions every now and then, and after Brittany was done the older woman took a deep breath to digest it all. Brittany watched her expectantly. She truly cared about her parents' opinion. They were all as close as could be. Family had always meant everything to her.
"Well, sweetheart," Annie started with a motherly little smile, running her hand through Brittany's blow-dried golden hair, "I'm glad that you know what you want, and are going after it. You know that your Dad and I only want you to be happy."
Annie's smile broadened and Brittany reciprocated it with a tight-lipped one, placing her hand over her Mom's on her own cheek.
"I'm also glad to see your attitude, Brittany," Annie added proudly, caressing her daughter's cheek one last time before retreating her hand. Brittany had expanded on how hopeful she was feeling despite the whole ordeal while she had told her Mom what happened before. "I think that's the spirit," Annie continued in the same fashion. It had killed her and Robert to see their always-so-positive daughter lose her hope all those years ago. So heartbreaking…
Brittany deeply felt her mother's words and as a result one lonely tear fell down her cheek while she lightly smiled, tear that the dancer quickly stopped with her hand. Nodding, Brittany said softly, "Yeah, it doesn't mean it's not hard, you know?"
It was Annie's time to nod her comprehension with a sympathetic light smile of her own. And then she repeated her daughter's effort to wipe down the tear that had run down the younger blonde's cheek.
Just at that second the two women heard Rob's heavy steps coming down the stairs, which made them both look back at him. The man stretched his arms above his head, dressed in sweats and a white cotton t-shirt as he climbed down the stairs towards the living room.
Noticing his wife and daughter sitting on the couch drinking tea, Rob stated with surprise, "Pumpkin, you're over early." A tender small smile covered his thin lips as he reached them by the couch.
"Yeah, Dad," Brittany confirmed, mimicking his smile as she remained turned around to face him. "Good morning," she added before finishing off her amazing tea.
"Morning," Robert replied promptly, sitting on his lazy boy recliner. It was a ritual of his on Sunday mornings: sit there and just watch everything sports related. "So, what brings you by so early?" He asked casually, not looking directly at her since he was too busy retrieving the remote control and powering the tv on.
Not receiving an answer in timely fashion, he turned to the women for an explanation to the sudden silence. Brittany just looked stuck on her words, so his eyes shifted to Annie, who answered for the dancer.
"Brittany and Jenna are getting a divorce, honey," Annie said calmly, placing her hand over Brittany's on the latter's knee.
Robert looked from Annie to Brittany and back, and then he replied with a simple, "I see." Brittany is hanging on her Dad's expression as he processed the information with a blank face. Then he snapped into gear and added evenly, "Okay."
"Okay?" Brittany repeated unsurely.
"Okay," Rob confirmed. He wanted to ask about Santana, but one quick look towards his wife was enough to tell him that part of the tale. People who were married for as long as they were and as well-matched as they were could do that. Annie's look also told him that she would fill him in properly later, that right then wasn't the time. So, he amended sweetly, fixing his gaze on his daughter's blue eyes, "Whatever you need, we're here."
Brittany smiled at her Dad and got up to give him an adoring kiss on the cheek. Her parents were just… She was one very lucky kid.
"Help me with breakfast, Britt," Annie said casually, walking towards the kitchen with her daughter in tow.
"I'm surprised Zoey isn't up yet," Brittany remarked as she and her Mom passed by the staircase on their way to the kitchen. Usually Zoey was an early-riser, especially when she was at her grandparents. Something about making the most of their time together, or better, of the time her grandparents spoiled her.
"Well, someone let her stay up way past her bedtime yesterday," Annie replied with amusement, chancing a telling look back towards Robert in the living room.
"It wasn't me," Rob called out from the living room, trying to dodge the blame even though he didn't see his wife's telling look since his were glued to the television set.
Both women chuckled lightly.
Santana walked back into her house with a heavy-breathing Poppy in tow. The brunette had been running for the last past hour. She usually didn't run on Sundays, but as soon as she got back inside after her talk with Brittany, Santana had simply thrown on some yoga pants, running shoes and a hooded sweatshirt before she went out for a run. She clearly needed the decompression and to stop thinking. She took Poppy along because she had discovered recently that if she tired the Beagle enough she usually left her prized shoes alone due to lack of energy or something. So, the dog became a regular running companion since then.
Bending down at the foyer to let Poppy off her leash, Santana failed to notice Quinn coming down the stairs because her iPod was still blasting the same song she had listened throughout her whole run on repeat. What? She needed the catharsis Yamagata's melancholic tune always seemed to bring her, especially at that particular moment in time.
Santana saw Quinn standing a couple feet in front of her squatted down figure before she heard her. Taking off her earbuds, and standing up straight, the brunette took in Quinn's immaculate persona. The hazel-eyed woman wore an idyllic dress paired with a matching cropped cardigan, and her hair looked as perfect as her outfit. Santana on the other hand probably looked all flushed and sweaty from running her guts out; the contrast annoyed her for some reason. Not that it was taking much to accomplish that goal in the past hour.
"Where are you off to?" Santana asked in a huff, watching as dog-whore Poppy jumped all over Quinn's legs despite the dog's clear tired state.
"Church," Quinn briefly answered matter-of-factly without taking her eyes off the dog, showering Poppy with her best smile. For as long as she can remember Quinn rarely ever missed a Sunday Mass.
The blonde's reply made Santana take sudden notice to the ever-present little golden cross around Quinn's neck, but she immediately diverted her attention towards ripping off her mp3 player armband and turning the device off before placing it on the foyer's round table.
"Right," Santana replied with zero enthusiasm, placing both hands on her hips for support. She really had given her all on that run.
Poppy's thirstiness must have won over her need to seek attention, Santana figured, because she saw the Beagle lazily make her way towards the laundry room, where they kept her bowls of food and water.
"So, is there something you want to tell me?" Quinn pried not-at-all subtly, shooting her friend a pointed and knowing look as she adjusted her small sling handbag around her shoulder.
"No," Santana replied dryly, knowing that Quinn already knew at least something. God, these people are nosy; she thought with irritation.
"Rachel and I heard voices earlier, you know? Yours and Brittany's," Quinn carried on with her pressing, hoping to find out something. They had heard some sort of arguing, but they weren't sure what the whole thing was about. They only guessed based on yesterday night's events, but their pre-conceived guess led to a happy ending and it did not seem like the case. So, something surely went wrong along the way. "What happened?"
"Stop meddling, Quinn. I don't want to talk about it," Santana said with an edgy tone, intensely locking their gazes to convey her message.
Quinn knew Santana wasn't the talking type. She always needed the time to brood and dwell before she was able to, perhaps, hash it all out.
Before Quinn could reply anything Santana continued, trying to change the subject, "I need a shower. God, my back hurts…" She stretched it a bit with a wince. "Giving Zoey piggyback rides and carrying her around in general is surely taking its toll," she half-assed complained.
Quinn shook her head slightly but took the bait. "We'll talk about this later when I get back for breakfast, you know, before Rach and I head to the Pierces for lunch to say bye to everyone."
Santana just begrudgingly nodded. In other times she would have certainly chewed the other woman's head off; but right then? She couldn't do it. Fact was she missed her friends. Santana missed all of them more than she would ever admit. So, maybe she was a little bit more lenient. Either way, the least she talked about this the better, so she took the out even if it was just a momentary one.
"Are you going with us?" Quinn asked casually, to which Santana just shot her a sharp look as an answer. "I –"
Santana cut her off instantly. "Don't you have to go, Fabray? You'll miss your Mass if you keep yapping away like this," the brown-eyed woman said with exasperation.
Rolling her eyes, Quinn shook her head and responded evenly, "We're not done with this." And with that she bid her friend goodbye before heading out.
Although not before Santana called out, "Wanna take the car?"
"Nope, it's close. I'd rather walk," Quinn shot back.
God dammed Fabray sure knows how to annoy the hell out of me, Santana mused inwardly while heading upstairs for a much needed shower. Whatever. Yes, mature she sure was. Well, everyone knows maturity is an overrated quality anyhow.
In the back of her head, though, Santana still listened, haunted by those damn words on that song, "I'm not gonna shed one more tear for you. Shed one more tear for you. I'm not gonna shed one more tear for you. At least not 'til Sunday afternoon, Sunday afternoon."
Around midday the doorbell rang at the Pierces' home and in less than five seconds later a little blue-eyed brunette girl was running enthusiastically towards it.
"I got it. I got it," Zoey shouted animatedly as she ran towards the door still in her pyjamas.
Fiddling with the key on her tiptoes she finally threw the door open. "Auntie Q, Auntie Rachel!" She exclaimed, throwing her little body against the first woman she could grab, which was Rachel.
"Hey there, Miss Zoey," Rachel greeted in a high pitch, rubbing the kid's back as Zoey hugged her legs.
As fast as she began hugging Rachel though, the little girl switched over to hug Quinn, who was already squatted down, more prepared for their goddaughter's attack.
"Hi, Zoe!" Quinn said in her sweet tone, returning the hug as small arms were curled around her neck. "Someone is happy to see us again so soon," the blonde added with amusement, because it hadn't even been 24 hours since they last saw each other.
"How was the party? Your dresses were pretty? Mommy said Mama's dress was super beautiful! Did you dance with Mommy and Mama too?" Zoey pulled back from the hug and started to fire away question after question still by the door without giving them any time to answer.
"Hey, Chatterbox, why don't you give your aunts some time to at least come inside before you start the interrogation?" Brittany asked playfully with a smile on, coming to them to save the guests. Zoey had already spent most part of the morning asking her questions about the reunion and Brittany had told her everything in detail, minus the drama obviously, but the kid still did not seem satisfied.
Zoey nodded in acceptance, looking up at them with sparkling blue eyes as the three women chuckled. Brittany had a small suspicion that her daughter was on a sugar high. She had told her Dad not to let the girl put that much syrup on her pancakes, but it fell on deaf ears; especially since the old man himself bathed his pancakes with the liquid, being instantly scolded by his wife.
"Didn't Mama come too?" Zoey asked innocently. It hadn't been a sure thing for her Mama to come, but the kid figured it didn't hurt to ask.
"No, sweetie," Quinn replied with a smile for the girl's sake, before shooting a quick glance towards an apprehensive Brittany.
"Ok, I'll get your paintings first then. Questions later," Zoey said, looking from Quinn to Rachel while Brittany closed the door behind her friends. The little girl had really taken to finger-painting lately.
"We can't wait," Rachel replied with a grin as Zoey bounded after her prized creations.
After briefly hugging her friends properly, Brittany started with, "Mom is just finishing lunch. Why don't we go over to the kitchen?"
As they walked together further into the house Robert could be seen still sitting in the living room.
"Girls!" The sandy-blond man greeted in a deep voice, wearing a thin smile. "Nice to see you again. Hope you don't mind me not getting up to greet you properly. Once this old man finds his chair and sports he just can't get up," he joked with a chuckle, making the girls chuckle back.
"Hi, Mr. Pierce! Fabulous to see you again as well," Rachel piped up as they stopped behind the main living room couch, looking sideways at the man on his recliner.
"And, please, don't you dare get up on our account," Quinn added with playfulness, grabbing a hold of Rachel's hand since the brunette stood by her side.
"Yeah, you ladies are family. No need for formalities. Now go on ahead, my house is your house," Rob said with sincerity as Brittany looked at him with proud eyes. Her parents really were the best.
The three women continued their walk towards the kitchen, and in no time they were entering it.
"Smells heavenly in here, Mrs. P," Quinn proclaimed as soon as they set foot in the kitchen.
They greeted Annie with hugs and politely made some quick chit-chat while sitting at the already-set table after Brittany's Mom refused their help, but they all knew what the topic they really wanted to talk about was.
Before the married couple even attempted to broach the topic, Brittany volunteered softly as the three women still sat at the table while Annie finished cooking by the stove, "Did she tell you?"
Although the topic had come out of nowhere Quinn and Rachel knew exactly who Brittany was talking about. And they thanked God that their dancer friend wasn't hard to crack… unlike a certain fiery, stubborn brunette.
"She didn't say much, really," Quinn started quietly, looking the other blonde in the eye with tenderness. Annie seemed to have tuned in more on the conversation from near the kitchen counter. "Just that you and Jenna weren't together anymore," she continued, stealing a subtle glance at Rachel, who sat beside her at the table. "When we asked about you two she just shortly said something along the lines that maybe it wasn't really meant to be," Quinn finished weakly.
While Brittany was nodding sadly – she knew Santana's whole messed-up theory, after all – Rachel added with a bit of a huff, "And in a terrible mood at that, might I add."
Quinn elbowed Rachel, who met her wife's stare defiantly whilst Brittany felt really upset to hear that. She never wanted Santana to be sad, and she knew that the brunette was sad because when she was like that her reaction was always to lash out and/or display a sour mood. Brittany really never wanted things to go the way they did.
"So, what happened exactly? After last night we were sure you two would be back together in no time," Quinn asked with sympathy, gaining Brittany's whole attention again.
Brittany was in the middle of re-telling the whole thing again – it wasn't like she would ever forget any tiny detail of that whole heart wrenching talk – with her married friends on the edge of their seats, when Zoey came rushing into the kitchen holding several sheets of paper. Her little face sported the widest grin, but it was also littered with several colours of washable kid's paint. Suffice to say Brittany stopped telling the story immediately.
"I made two more," Zoey proclaimed instantly, carefully placing the sheets of painted paper on the plates in front of her aunts at the table. Quinn and Rachel were about to pick them up when the girl added, "Careful, these two are still wet."
Quinn and Rachel nodded with a smile, being careful around the wet ones and seeing the others more closely. All under Zoey's expectant eyes, of course.
"My goodness, look at the state of you," Brittany said with a chuckle, ushering her daughter closer to her. "Did you paint with your fingers or with your face?" The blonde added with amusement, holding the kid's face between her caring hands. Zoey just smiled brightly at her Mommy.
"With my hands," the blue-eyed girl replied, honestly thinking her mom was asking for real.
Everyone laughed at the kid's innocence, Annie included.
"These are so, so beautiful, Zoey," Rachel said while Quinn nodded her agreement.
"We'll make sure to put them in our fridge's door as soon as we get home," Quinn added in a praising tone of voice. Zoey loved when people told her they would put them on their fridge. It was like the highest honour to her.
Zoey beamed. She clearly loved to be the center of attention. "Those two are for Uncle Jimmy," the little girl said, pointing at two particular paintings from near Brittany. Turning around to face her Mommy, she asked with furrowed little brows, "Why didn't Uncle Jimmy come to the union?" The kid missed him, even though they spoke through phone and Skype constantly.
"He didn't go to High School with us, sweetie," Brittany answered, affectionately running her hand through her daughter's soft brown hair. Zoey just nodded her understanding before looking down at her Chelsea pyjamas as if lovingly remembering her godfather.
Brittany caught Rachel mouthing to her a mute question, 'Does she know?' To which Brittany simply shook her head subtly. She hadn't told Zoey yet about her and Jenna. That conversation would surely be a can of worms considering Brittany's plan had failed. Otherwise it would be the best conversation ever. Oh, well…
Zoey was about to restart playing twenty questions, but Annie sensed her granddaughter's desire and ran interference. "Come on, dirty little monkey, let me help you wash up so we can finally have lunch," Annie said to Zoey, outstretching her hand to beckon the kid.
The little girl really liked being referred as a little monkey, but not a dirty one. So, she furrowed her eyebrows and countered from near her mother, "No estoy sucia." For some reason her Spanish seemed to flourish more when she was being combative.
"Wow, someone is becoming really good in Spanish," Quinn mused, looking at Zoey with pride.
"San's always teaching her," Brittany commented with adoration shining in her eyes whilst longingly looking at Zoey, who was walking over to her Grandma and took the offered hand with her little one. And then grandma and granddaughter walked out of the kitchen with a brief 'We'll be right back' from Annie.
The married couple not-so-subtly prompted Brittany to finish her account of that early morning's events and the blonde obliged with no resistance.
"…And then I watched her get inside and came here," Brittany finished softly, receiving sympathetic gazes from Quinn and Rachel.
"Wow," Rachel said in response, followed quickly by a sigh. There was something to be said about the whole situation if it managed to render Rachel Berry speechless.
Brittany also sensed some kind of pity mixed in her friends' sympathetic gazes. Lucky for them she wasn't Santana Lopez, otherwise they'd be in trouble. Nevertheless, the dancer felt the need to appease them.
"But it will be fine. I'll get San back, even if I have to wait forever," Brittany uttered simply, mustering the best reassuring tight-lipped smile she could. "I don't care how long it takes."
"So, she is still set on moving back to New York?" Quinn asked barely above a whisper. She still was having trouble coming to terms with the fact that Brittany's plan from yesterday night had fallen to pieces. Quinn had really set herself to believe that both their friends would be rejoining them in the Big Apple very soon.
Brittany merely nodded. That fact still managed to cut her deep whenever it was brought up. She honestly didn't know how she would stand to be apart, really miles and miles apart from the love of her life. But she had her hope… Right? Right.
"That will be hard," Rachel piped in weakly, to which Brittany just nodded once again. It would. They had no idea how hard.
After a short silent beat, Brittany felt like reassuring not only them but her when she said, "But I have hope now." Short pregnant pause. "I have to."
It was Quinn and Rachel's time to just nod. God…
"Let's all hope Santana comes around," Rachel said for good measure while Quinn reached over the table top to rub Brittany's hand a bit in support.
"God knows that one is a stubborn one," Quinn mumbled to no one in particular.
Seconds later Zoey came running back into the kitchen squeaky clean with Annie a bit behind her. The little girl quickly took residence on her Mommy's lap.
Brittany smiled widely at Zoey while the brunette girl absentmindedly caressed her mother's face with some innate, pure affection that was simply heartwarming. Brittany then said with conviction while staring fondly at her kid, "Everything will be just fine," and then she slowly turned her gaze to her friends, who supportively smiled back at her.
"Let's have lunch, shall we?" Annie announced casually before calling out for Robert to join them.
Santana's black Range Rover was parked in her circular driveway and Quinn was placing the last of her and Rachel's luggage in the trunk while Santana silently leaned on the side of the vehicle watching her do it. What? She had helped her carry the bags down. Should she do everything? Anyways, Santana knew Brittany had filled in her friends on everything that happened between them. And Quinn knew that Santana knew it. Yet, none of them said a word on the matter after the ladies came back from lunch.
Closing the trunk with a small thud, Quinn casually leaned against the car beside Santana. The brunette doctor had her eyes fixed on a giggling Zoey by then as the girl chased and was chased by Poppy a few feet away from them on her front yard's lawn. The kid had insisted on coming back to her Mama's with her aunts to take them to the airport with Santana.
"Can I tell you something?" Quinn asked evenly, also watching Zoey play without a care in the world.
Santana remained in the same position, arms nonchalantly crossed over her chest and eyes on her happy little girl, when she replied without missing a beat, "My consent or lack thereof never stopped you before." Preemptive snap: a well-known Lopez move.
Quinn rolled her eyes, sparing a quick sideway glance towards Santana.
"It has nothing to do with you and Brittany," Quinn replied with faux annoyance, knowing her friend well enough to determine the reason behind the attitude. "God, you're so self-centered…" she added in the same tone, letting a small smile take over her pretty features.
Santana mirrored said smile. After a brief beat she countered slyly, unable to miss the opportunity because Quinn really walked into that one, "Takes one to know the other." She looked sideways as well and Quinn met her eyes; they shared a quick smile before Santana returned her eyes to Zoey.
"No running near the stones, por favor," Santana called out, warning the kid about the big white stones that neatly circled different kinds of plants around the front yard. Those could seriously split up a head. Zoey didn't look at their direction since she was really immersed with the Beagle, but she immediately obeyed the instruction.
Quinn took the silence as her cue to go on. "I have some really good news," the hazel-eyed woman proclaimed with a tiny hint of a smile.
"Man-Hands lost her voice?" Santana joked half-heartedly. Rachel had been inside the house taking a phone call before she and Quinn headed back to New York.
Quinn just faked a silent laugh.
"Rachel and I are adopting," she said seriously and softly after a beat, smoothing her dress to keep her hands busy.
Santana instantly uncrossed her arms and leaned on her side against the car instead of on her back. Quinn followed her move.
Blinking rapidly several times, Santana struggled to find words. "Quinn, that's…" Santana trailed off, offering the blonde a genuine smile. "Why didn't you two say something before?" The brunette added in question. Those things took time, right? They must have started a while back.
Quinn smiled back before she replied matter-of-factly, "We started the whole process in the beginning of the year. We wanted to get the ball going before we told everyone. You're the first to hear this aside from Rachel's dads, by the way. We don't have a kid yet or anything. These things take time, you know?" And then Quinn flashed Santana a full-blown smile while her friend nodded.
Quinn was really excited. Really nervous, but really excited. It didn't take a genius to know why they had opted for the adoption route. Of course the fact that Rachel didn't want to get pregnant at that exact moment because she had a new play starting in a few weeks, and the fact that Quinn still didn't know whether she would like to face pregnancy again, both also factored into their decision. What they were certain on was that they wanted to expand the family. They were stronger than ever as a couple. Their relationship had started tumultuous around senior year of college. Rachel had broken-up with Finn less than a year before, and Quinn had come from a string of barely-months-old relationships. So, they had lots of on-and-off periods at the beginning. Also along the way they had several problems due to Rachel's career that have always brought out her driven, ambitious and egotistic side to play, which never mixed well with Quinn's judgmental, manipulative and cold side. However, they had found balance. At that point in their lives they were ready, committed and solid.
"Well, that's awesome, Q…" Santana spoke with the utmost sincerity, placing a hand on Quinn's forearm. "I'm, I'm really happy for you. Both of you," she added in the same fashion. She and Brittany had also considered adoption back then when they decided that they wanted a kid. Blood relation had never been an issue for them whatsoever. The only problem with adoption was the long wait. At least that was what Santana had claimed, but she and Brittany knew that the real reason behind it was the fact that Santana was a real control-freak. She always wanted to hold all the cards. The possibility of hearing a 'no' from some judging stranger was just… Santana Lopez liked her control.
Quinn nodded with a tight-lipped smile conveying her silent 'thanks'. However, there was still that particular something in the back of her mind. She needed to ask. "Do you, uh, do you think I'll be a good Mom?" Quinn asked in a really low tone of voice, averting her eyes to the ground for some reason.
Santana added pressure on her hold of Quinn's forearm and didn't hesitate when she replied confidently, "I know you will." That brought Quinn's eyes back up to meet her friend's stare, her best friend's stare. "In fact," Santana continued evenly, holding the gaze, "I know you've always been."
The words hit Quinn hard, and she felt her eyes begin to well up a bit. Again, it didn't take a genius to know why they had chosen to adopt. There hasn't been a day in Quinn's life when she didn't wonder where she had been, when she felt a particular freezing gust of wind in a random New York winter and didn't wonder if she had enough to keep her warm, when she didn't wonder what kind of people had her, when she didn't pray really hard for those people to be kind and good and loving… Now Quinn, with Rachel by her side, wanted to be nothing more than the kind of people she wished she had in her life.
But she knew she would never stop wondering.
Santana stepped forward and hugged the petite blonde. She felt she needed one. Quinn pulled back after a few seconds and that time she actually said it, "Thank you." Santana could see in her eyes that she meant it, the same way that Quinn had seen that Santana had meant what she had said but a moment ago.
"It means a lot coming from you," Quinn added honestly as both of them resumed their position leaning sideways against the car. "You're amazing with her," she continued with a smile, motioning with her head towards Zoey.
Santana smiled back but dismissed the compliment. "It is easier than you think," she said simply and then paused, quickly pondering whether she should continue or not. She did though, powered by their moment or so it seemed.
"I never told her this but, when Brittany got pregnant, there were a couple of times I, uh, got really worried. There was this… person growing inside of her," Santana said softly, stealing an adoring glance at Zoey, "this little person that we didn't know but who I – who we wanted so much, but who was still a stranger, you know? This tiny person who would just come out and you were supposed to just love instantly. You know my track record with feelings, so you can't blame me for the thoughts," she added with some wry humour and laugh as Quinn hung on her every word.
After a brief pause Santana continued, "But you do. Love them instantly, I mean." They both grinned sweetly, and Santana stole another glance at her kid. "Turned out I actually got to meet mine a little later than I expected," the brunette continued wistfully, her smile fading a bit, "but, I guess what I'm trying to say is that it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter when or how, because you look at them and they're… yours and it just hits you. Hard."
"Well, you're a great Mom, San," Quinn said sincerely, bumping shoulders with her friend to convey affection.
"I try," Santana countered in a rare moment of modesty. "B is the natural, though," she added matter-of-factly with fondness.
Quinn knew it wasn't exactly the truth. They were both excellent mothers.
Changing the subject, Quinn said with a barely-there smile, "I'm happy you'll be back to New York." The petite blonde really wished Santana would be back with Brittany and Zoey, but she would take what she could get. "I've missed you," she stated softly, and to quickly mask the sappy statement she concluded playfully, "Especially for our tennis matches. Jimmy really isn't the ideal partner."
"He still fancies himself Federer, huh?" Santana asked with a smirk, to which Quinn just matched it and weakly nodded. Let's just say James played the game really seriously and really… aggressively. Quinn's once broken wrist would know.
In that moment Rachel popped her head out the front door of the house with her phone attached to her ear and called out, "I'm just finishing, guys. One minute!" And right after she was out of view again.
Santana shook her head at the Hobbit's antics while she and Quinn yet again went back to leaning against the car with their backs.
"You shouldn't choose your pride over happiness, San," Quinn said calmly whilst they watched Zoey and Poppy. "Trust me, I would know," she concluded in a serious tone of voice.
Santana didn't reply. She just seemed to be taking it in. After a few seconds she stopped leaning against the car and, without turning to Quinn, she said evenly, "Thanks, but I didn't ask for advice." Small pause. "It is what it is," she concluded in the same tone.
With that she started making her way towards Zoey but was immediately stopped by Quinn, who deterred Santana by softly grabbing her by the elbow. "For what it's worth, Britt actually told us last night at Puck's bar that she would end things with Jenna," Quinn stated while holding fiery brown orbs. She had heard the whole story from Brittany and knew she could, at least, shed some light and confirmation.
Santana didn't say anything. She simply broke eye contact after a few intense seconds and directed a determined gaze – including her traditional raised eyebrow – to where Quinn held her by the arm. There was no denial that the brunette's mood had become considerably lighter than it was at the beginning of that Sunday morning – time really seemed to put things in perspective – but Quinn was really trying to test her. Anyhow, suffice to say, the petite blonde got the "subtle" message and released her hold.
Santana then just resumed her walk towards her daughter because that wasn't the real issue, was it? She wouldn't lie, it was sort of nice to have confirmation, but that was way beside the point where they currently stood.
The brunette changed her attitude as soon as she neared her kid. "Come on, baby, let's get your silly aunts to the airport!" Santana exclaimed with a grin plastered on her face as the kid threw herself in her Mama's arms.
"They're not silly, Mama," Zoey replied through giggles as Santana planted several kissed all over the girl's face while embracing her tightly.
"Oh, but they are," Santana joked, picking Zoey up while Poppy jumped at their feet and Quinn joined them with a smile.
"Shut up," Quinn shot back playfully as Rachel made her way to them.
"Shall we go?" Rachel asked congenially, placing a hand on her wife's shoulder.
"Please," Santana joked once again and her friends just shook their heads.
It was really late at night when Santana parked her car yet again in front of Brittany's place. She had stopped by a few hours earlier to drop Zoey off, all bathed and sleepy and ready for bed. The brown-eyed woman had a really early shift the next day and wouldn't be able to keep their daughter for the night. Their interaction had been nothing shorter than civil, but too short... especially to Brittany's liking. The dancer knew Santana was clearly trying to avoid time with her.
Santana killed the engine and grabbed her phone. She just sat there with the mobile in hand for a couple of minutes anxiously pondering whether she should text Brittany or not. It was really late and considering both of them had work the next day it was safe to assume Brittany should be already in bed. But, if the dancer was anything like Santana, she was probably experiencing some trouble in the sleep department as well. Besides, Santana could clearly see through the living room curtain some sort of tv light glowing amidst the darkness.
What the hell; Santana thought, unlocking her phone screen. She shot the other woman a quick text, 'Are you still up?'
The reply came but a minute after, 'Yes. Couldn't sleep.'
Santana filed the second half of Brittany's message under the TMI category of her brain. She really didn't need to know that. Even though it only confirmed her earlier theory.
Shrugging away the thought, Santana's thumb worked on a reply, 'I'm outside. Can you come to the door?' She didn't wait for a reply, though. Santana just unfastened her seatbelt, grabbed something from the passenger's seat and made her way to Brittany's door.
Santana would never know this, but Brittany's heart skipped several beats in excitement after reading that text on the screen of her phone, and the blue-eyed woman's hands started to subtly shake as she rushed from the living room's couch to the door.
Brittany swung the door open with a bright smile on her lips at the same time Santana reached her door.
"Zoey forgot Peter and Wendy at my place," Santana declared simply, offering the fish bowl in her hands. "Since I have that early shift tomorrow I thought it'd be best to drop it off today than wake you up at dawn," she finished matter-of-factly.
"Oh," Brittany replied weakly, her excitement visibly deflating along with her smile. She tried to recover in time by hurriedly reaching for the offered fish bowl after plastering a forced little smile on her face, but it was no use. Santana had obviously seen it.
Trying to ignore what she had seen (Brittany should really work on her poker face because witnessing stuff like that was really hard… on both of them, surely) Santana babbled on in a desperate attempt to kill the awkwardness floating in the air, "I mean, I didn't want the kids to be disappointed or something if Zoey forgot the damn fishes at home. I mean, if Zoe is any indication those brats really enjoy taking the dynamic duo home. We wouldn't want to make some poor kid cry for missing their turn, right?" She emitted a contrived chuckle after the lame joke.
Brittany fake chuckled back, keeping the pretense to the best of her capability. "Right," she uttered for good measure, holding the bowl with both hands in fear of dropping it. The kids really did love those fishes. When they moved from Miss Miller's class to Miss Andrews' the little ones got so attached to the betas that they had to move classes with the children too.
"I better head back. Have some sleeping to do," Santana said still in a playful tone, she apparently wasn't able to break free from it.
"Alright," Brittany replied softly, breaking out of her disappointment and offering Santana a sweet and genuine smile. Really, she shouldn't be surprised. What was she expecting? Brittany knew she had always been an optimistic person but even she should know that, when she proposed to wait for Santana, the wait would certainly be longer than mere eighteen hours. But I girl could dream, and hope, right? Besides, she was totally okay with waiting. For as long as it took. If it even took. Whatever the case may be, she was hopeful at least. Hope; Brittany reinforced in her mind yet again. It felt good.
Santana just nodded at Brittany's 180. The woman still managed to be a mystery to her. And she still loved that fact about her. Wait… no, scratch that. Her mind really shouldn't go there. So, Santana subtly shook her head from side to side and began turning on her feet to get (run?) back to her car.
"Goodnight, S," Brittany added as the other woman took a couple of steps towards her destination.
"Night," Santana replied softly, briefly turning her neck to see the dancer without stop walking.
After a couple more steps from Santana, Brittany couldn't help but coyly – yet puckishly – call out from her doorway, "I'll still be waiting." She didn't know exactly where that boldness came from, but she liked it.
That stopped Santana on her tracks. She bit her bottom lip whilst lifting one eyebrow before turning her body halfway to look back at Brittany. "Yeah, I haven't forgotten. You know, from the other hundred times you said it," Santana countered with a hint of cheekiness. Again, she had to hand it to Brittany: the other woman had some nerve.
And then, after delivering the line Santana immediately resumed her short walk.
That didn't stop Brittany, though. "Good," the blonde shot back, smile widening. "Sweet dreams, San…"
Santana continued walking while shaking her head. "Go to bed, Britts," she replied evenly with her back still turned.
When she reached her car though, she couldn't deny the betraying tiny smile that played on her lips. However, she did consciously drop it instantly after she noticed it. Damn. Shut it down, woman.
Tables turn, ladies and gents... Tables turn.
But it's nice to see some beauty in the wreck, and also some kind of order in the randomness of the universe, huh? At least on the page. Things finally came full circle (well, almost full circle since it will only come full circle for real when our ladies do get back together). Rambling aside, hope you guys see now why things had to go down like that, in that specific order to have real meaning, purpose and make the girls come out from this stronger than ever. If not, hopefully you will soon. 4 more chapters (give or take) to go...
I will answer all your PMs, by the way. I know I'm terribly behind but I wanted to get the chapter done first.