Sweet As Can Be
Summary: Fluff fic. Glee Club's ten year reunion barbeque. Everyone is grown up and starting their families. Santana's happy. She has Brittany and she's in love. She doesn't need anything else. Right?
Disclaimer: I totally and completely do not own Glee. Leave me alone to pretend.
Authors Note: This is a one-shot that turned into the longest two-shot imaginable. Part one is pure fluff, part two will be the more Brittana part of this.
I'm not really happy with how this turned out but oh well.
In all honesty, it was because of Rachel. True, Tina or Kurt could easily be put at fault, but essentially it came down to Rachel. That damn diva, who, by the end of senior year, Santana had established a sort of friendship with. That same diva who, ten years later, had organized a barbeque for all their McKinley Glee Club friends. If Rachel hadn't organized the party, Santana wouldn't be standing here having this intense moment with Brittany. She wouldn't admit it, but if she had to place the blame somewhere, it would be on Rachel's shoulders. Not that she would ever tell Rachel, her ego was big enough.
And not like blame was exactly the right word, considering this was a good thing, not a bad thing.
Still, it was because of Rachel Berry she was here, standing with Brittany's arms wrapped around her middle, on a porch that wasn't their own, proposing an idea to the blonde that she had been strongly against most of her life.
"We're just crossing over the I-75 now," Artie said, "We should be about fifteen minutes, tops."
"Tell Sam there's an accident on 4th Street," Rachel called out, "Take another way here."
There was a pause, and then, "Okay, he said we'll take Foundry."
"Construction," Tina said. "Take Battle Street instead."
"Got it," Artie said. It had been Rachel's idea to put him on speaker phone, that way everyone could hear.
"You better tell him to step on it, Artie," Mike said loudly, "I'm about to start heating up the barbeque."
"We'll be there shortly," Artie replied before hanging up.
The day was, as Rachel had dubbed it, the McKinley High Glee Club Ten Year Anniversary Bash. Santana was just calling it the reunion barbeque.
The whole day had been planned by the tiny brunette. It was ten years exactly since their high school graduation, and for the past few weeks she had been getting in contact with everyone and arranging for the big reunion.
Mike and Tina's house in Lima had been dubbed for the occasion. It was "back home" in Lima and since not everyone lived there anymore she figured it would be good to have the party in a familiar place. Mike and Tina's place was chosen specifically over Finn's because they had a large patio and huge backyard. It was big and spacious and had enough room for everyone and their families to gather.
Sam and Artie were the only ones not there yet, but were, apparently, fifteen minutes away.
After high school, Sam had stayed in Lima and went to community college for a few years. Then, seemingly making the decision out of nowhere, moved out west. He now lived outside Tucson, Arizona on a small horse ranch. Santana had no idea the boy even knew how to ride a horse, much less care for one. But there he was. He and his on-again off-again girlfriend ran the barn together, some sort of horse rescue paradise.
In addition to working on the ranch, Sam had also followed his dream and geeked out in the greatest possible way. He worked from home as a comic book writer and artist. The horses surprised Santana, the comics didn't.
Artie's future had taken him in the opposite geographical direction. After a computer tech scholarship at MIT, Artie had slowly made his way further and further south, eventually ending up as a computer programmer in Jacksonville, Florida. From what Santana understood from her rushed conversation with Rachel when she was planning all this, Artie actually owned and oversaw the whole company.
"I'm starting up the barbeque anyway," Mike informed.
"Mike," Tina scolded, "Be nice. It isn't their fault. Their flight was supposed to get here yesterday."
"If I don't start it up, Puck will. Puck likes to think he's the Barbeque King."
"Dude, go ahead," Puck groaned from where he was lying on the grass, nursing a bag of frozen peas between his legs. "I'm fine here."
"I have to say, that was a great way to start off the afternoon," Quinn said, hiding her laugh behind her hand.
"Can it, Fabray."
"Ice it, Puckerman," Quinn quipped. "Or do you need a bag of frozen carrots to go with those peas? Even better, I'm sure Santana or I would gladly cut your balls right off for you, save you the pain. And the humiliation."
That shut Puck up.
Artie and Sam had met up four days ago in Georgia for a week-long comic book convention and had arranged to fly to Ohio together for the barbeque. They were supposed to get to Lima yesterday, but bad weather in Georgia had grounded their flight and they had only gotten to the airport a little while ago. But now, with Sam behind the wheel of a rental car, they were on their way.
And that was a good thing, because the reunion party was already in full swing. Aside from Puck's painful and embarrassing arrival at the Chang household, Tina's daughter had spilled the pitcher of ice tea over the patio table and Finn's massive beast of a dog had run off with the hamburger buns.
Rachel, after being convinced that the actual Glee Club part of the reunion, namely the singing, couldn't start until everyone was there, had scurried off for a few minutes. She had returned only after her specially chosen playlist of songs was playing softly through Mike's outdoor speakers.
She had convinced Quinn to join her in doing a karaoke number to start off the party, Quinn turning bright red when Rachel chose something from the Spice Girls. But that was it. No more singing until everyone was there. Rachel had pouted.
Something big and furry brushed against Santana's legs. She looked down; Mike and Tina's Golden Retriever was under the table snagging some pretzels Brittany had dropped.
The blonde squealed as the dog finished grabbing the fallen food and began licking her flip-flop clad toes. "Don't, that tickles!"
"Bailey! Bay, come here," Tina called. The dog responded, slinking out from under the table and coming to Tina's side. "You goof," she said, grabbing the dog lightly by both ears, "You can't just go around licking people willy-nilly. Not everyone appreciates it."
"His tongue is so big," Brittany laughed, "I'm only used to the cat's tongue. And his is a lot smaller. And not as wet."
"You let her keep pets?" Mercedes joked, looking at Santana. "I remember the cats she had in high school, those were scary creatures."
Brittany stuck her tongue out.
"Don't worry," the Latina assured, "Ours is of a respectable size and weight. Nothing as massively overweight as Lord Tubbington. And," she added, "nothing as evil as Charity was."
"I don't think I met Charity," Kurt offered.
"She hated everything."
"No, sweetie. Only you."
"Thanks," Santana deadpanned. "So much."
"What's your cat's name?" Tina asked.
"Tiger," Brittany replied. "He's black with a white tuft under his chin."
Blaine looked a little thrown, "You're black cat is named Tiger. But tigers are-"
"Don't bother," Santana heard Kurt whisper.
"Oh my God, Kurt! You and Blaine should get a cat too. Or a puppy!"
Kurt laughed, "Thanks Britt, I think we have our hands fill with what we've got right now."
Sitting to Santana's left were Kurt and Blaine; the high school sweethearts, turned not, turned lovers again. The pair had only lasted six months after graduation before breaking up, a sob story that Santana had heard first hand.
After Kurt had returned to McKinley and she had gotten her head out of her ass, the two had formed a strong friendship that had lasted longer than she would have ever expected. After Brittany, Kurt had been the first person she'd hugged as they'd been deemed graduating class of 2012 and tossed their caps into the air. Kurt was also one of the first people she called to wish Merry Christmas ever year, falling before her parents but after Quinn. They were close, and planned on it staying that way.
So Santana had been there when Kurt and Blaine had that one fight that went too far, ending their relationship for what they both thought was forever. It became almost routine, the two of them, out at a bar every weekend, Kurt trying not to think about how miserable his life would be without Blaine, with Santana trying in her not-so-sober state to say something comforting. It had taken Brittany pushing Santana for her to finally put a stop to Kurt's wallowing and forced him back into his life.
Santana had also been there, by phone this time, three years later when Kurt called to announce that he had run into Blaine the day before and they were going for coffee the next day. But just as friends. Queue Santana's over-excited and way too girly squeal of joy for Kurt to "go get him tiger!"
Now, seven years later, the lovebirds were in the midst of their "we're going to grow old together" plan. They had gotten married and now lived in Inwood, a neighbourhood on Manhattan Island. Kurt was an editor for a high-end fashion magazine and Blaine was a journalist who volunteered at a community theatre. Their life was pretty much adorable.
Though Blaine was currently sitting comfortably in one of the patio chairs, arm thrown casually over the back of Kurt's chair, Kurt was sitting forward in his seat, eyes trained carefully on Rachel.
The reason for this was because Kurt and Blaine's five month old son Robert was happily perched on Rachel's lap.
"Kurt, relax, Rachel isn't going to drop him," Blaine chuckled.
Kurt's eyes didn't move from the smiling baby.
"Really Kurt," Rachel insisted, "Along with my singing capabilities, I have very good reflexes. In the unlikely event that I did drop your child, rest assured I would catch him before he hit the patio."
The baby gurgled happily as Rachel bounced him up and down on her knees. "And aren't you a pretty baby?"
Robert giggled, tugging on Rachel's hair. "Yes, I agree, you are a very pretty baby, Mr. Burt Jr. Yes you are."
"I didn't realize Rachel was so good with kids," Quinn commented.
"I'm a natural," Rachel said absentmindedly, still bouncing the child on her lap. The baby began clapping and Rachel laughed. "Oh, you are so precious."
"Rachel, we live ten minutes away from you, you see him all the time."
Rachel scoffed at Blaine, "What, do you not like me praising the adorableness of your very charismatic child?"
Blaine shrugged, "You're making Kurt nervous."
Rachel waved him off, "Nonsense. I am perfectly able to handle your child without injury. Did I not just babysit for you two weekends ago so you could go off and have your anniversary dinner?" Rachel smiled sweetly and blinked her long lashes at the pair expectantly.
Kurt flushed and Blaine rolled his eyes and laughed, "Yes, yes you did. And we appreciate it."
Rachel nodded and continued, "Now, Mr. Adorable Little Pumpkin, you need to convince your Daddy and Papa that you want to be a big star, that way they can begin your star training as soon as possible." She nodded seriously at Robert, who gurgled at her again.
"Was she like this with Jamie?" Santana asked, referring to Kurt and Blaine's three year old daughter.
"Who do you think convinced Jamie she needed to start ice skating lessons at two and a half?" Kurt asked incredulously.
"Ice skating is a very serious sport, Kurt," Rachel chided.
Though the diva did not have any children of her own, she was far from unhappy.
Rachel had done everything she'd dreamed of doing since she was a little girl, she'd become a Broadway star. Moving to Manhattan after graduation, the little brunette had started off small, working smaller Off-Broadway roles until she had worked her way up to the top. She was now the star member of New York's newest hit musical, where she sung her heart out night after night to an audience of cheering fans.
Rachel still had a large ego, but it had calmed considerably since high school. Santana was surprised; actually making it big was what had humbled the diva.
She lived in Midtown, the Broadway area of New York. Only a ten minute drive from Inwood, she visited Kurt and Blaine regularly, glitzing and glamoring up their daughter and never missing one of the tiny girl's ice skating competitions.
The brunette was not currently dating anyone, but over the years had had a few love affairs. It actually surprised Santana. Though she knew Rachel put her career before her relationships, she had always come off as the romantic in high school. It was odd thinking that Rachel wasn't married or at least steadily dating someone.
But Rachel was happy. That was all that mattered to her.
"Look!" Mike and Tina's son Logan said, toddling over. He held out his hand, offering his mother a squished beetle. "A bee!"
Tina swiped a napkin from the table, "No, sweetie," she cooed, wiping the bug goo from her son's hand, "That's a beetle, not a bee."
"Bee-tle," the boy tested the word out.
"That's right," she smiled, lifting him up onto her lap. "And I told you, you can't go around picking up bugs. They're dirty."
"I like dirt," the boy said happily, showing off his hands. There was dirt from the garden under his small fingernails.
"Now that's an understatement," Mike laughed, standing at the barbeque. He stepped away for a moment to reach over and tickle his son's stomach. The two year old flailed about in hysterics until Tina set him back down on the ground. He immediately went back to where he had been previously, sitting in the sandbox and digging away happily. His blue overalls were covered in dirt, sand, and grass stains.
"Now that boy is a mess waiting to happen," Puck laughed. "I like him."
Mike sighed, "He's a handful, but he's happy."
The sandbox and accompanying tree house sat off to one side of the yard, next to the garden. Jamie was sitting in between the garden and the sandbox, playing with a large stuffed pink cat.
"She likes her birthday present?" Brittany asked, looking at the cat.
"Yeah Britt," Blaine smiled, "She loves it."
"Good," Brittany said happily, "Santana wanted to get her a doll. I thought the cat was better."
"Infinitely better," Blaine laughed.
Logan stood up in the sandbox and called Jamie over. The little girl giggled happily and plopped herself and the stuffed cat down into the middle of the sandpit and the two began filling buckets and trying to build a sand castle.
Kurt sighed, "She's going to get that dress covered in sand."
"You aren't a dirty little baby like your sister, are you?" Rachel chuckled. Robert showed his appreciation for the statement by clapping for her. "Oh, clever little Burt Jr." She leaned down, mock-whispering, "Since you are such a good, clean baby, I think you should ask your Papa for a kitty, like Auntie Brittany suggested. Hmm?" Robert began giggling, waving his hands around happily.
"Rachel," Blaine sighed.
"What?" She turned the baby in her lap so he was facing Blaine, "Come on pretty baby, tell Papa you want a kitty cat." She tickled his sides lightly.
The baby exploded in high pitched giggles.
"Okay, come here before she tells you to convince me to buy you a car or something equally ridiculous." He reached forward, taking the baby from Rachel. Robert immediately snuggled into Blaine's chest.
There was a loud squeal and everyone looked over to see Logan dumping a bucket of sand into Jamie's lap.
Kurt sighed again, face pinched as he watched his daughter's pink dress become further covered in sand.
"She can borrow something of Lilly's," Tina offered lightly, "for the ride home if that one gets too sandy. I'm sure we could find something that would fit."
Mike and Tina were the perfect example of a happily ever after. Both had attended Ohio State for teaching, first living on campus and then moving into their own off-campus apparent in downtown Columbus. They had eventually made their way back to Lima, where Tina had taken up teaching kindergarten at the local primary school. Mike had become the gym teacher at McKinley and had taken over as the football coach.
In addition to teaching at their respective schools, both taught dance classes at the community center. Tina spent two evenings a week teaching little girls and boys how to tap dance, and Mike spent weekend mornings teaching different variations of hip-hop to teenagers.
They bought their first house in Lima six years ago, right before Lilly was born. It was small and there was a minor rabbit problem in the yard, but it had been good for the new family. Three years later they had scored their current house. An older home, the bungalow had three bedrooms and backed onto a small woodlot. And it had a massive backyard.
The two newest members of the Chang residence were Bailey, their four year old Golden Retriever, and Logan, their two year old and very mischievous son.
Finn, who had been chasing his massive dog Bear, Lilly and Jacob around near the back of the yard called out, "Heads up!" as Bear began bounding towards the patio. The sound of the dog's deep bark filled the air as he ran at full speed. Puck rolled to one side, avoiding getting run over as the dog continued running and barking excitedly. "Hey, knock it off!" Finn yelled. The dog barked once more for good measure before quieting, dancing around the patio table.
"Dude, what's his problem?" Mike asked.
As answer, the back gate swung open and Sam entered pushing Artie in his wheelchair. A chorus of hellos sounded immediately.
Santana stood along with everyone else to exchange hellos. "Hey, Evans," she said, looking at Sam, "Long time." In response, the blonde offered his fist for a fist-bump, only to pull Santana in for a hug at the last minute. The Latina barked a laugh in response.
"Good to see you too, Lopez," Sam said, releasing her.
She turned to see Brittany exchanging places with Tina, crouching down in front of Artie to give him a hug.
"You got a new chair!" Brittany laughed as she leaned back from her hug, remembering the wheelchair she and Santana last saw Artie in three years prior.
"Yeah," Artie explained. "Don't ask. That's not a story for when I'm sober."
The blonde woman giggled as she stood. Santana stepped forward. "Hey, Artie."
She felt Brittany's fingers ghosting over the small of her back, reassuring and comforting. She and Artie had made peace – she was the one who had Brittany after all, so what reason did she have to be bitter towards him? – but Brittany's touch was soothing. It let her know the blonde understood Santana and Artie weren't on the best page, but reminded Santana there was no reason to be mean to him.
"Police woman Lopez, always a pleasure," he answered, offering her a high-five as response. "Don't worry, we aren't double parked. I'd hate to make you break out those cuffs."
Santana rolled her eyes and laughed, clasping Artie's shoulder. "Good to see you didn't lose your sense of humour in taking over that boring-ass company of yours."
"Woman, have you seen me? I sweat humour."
"Own it," Puck piped in, fist-bumping the wheelchair bound man.
"Where's the food?" Sam asked, looking toward Mike and the barbeque.
Mike opened his mouth to answer but his wife cut in. "Kids first. Lilly," she said, looking down at the girl tugging on her skirt. "Hot dog or hamburger? And yes Rachel, we have vegan too."
"Hot dog for Logan," she instructed Mike as he dished out the food. "Kurt, what's Jamie having?"
"Hot dog for her. Come on babe," he said, scooping the small girl onto his hip. "Let's get you a plate. What do you want, carrots or cucumbers?"
"Cumbers," the pig-tailed girl giggled. "Lots and lots!"
Once the parents had assembled their children's plates, the adults stood to prepare their own. First stopping at the barbeque to place their order with Mike and then stepping inside the Chang's kitchen to choose from an assortment of other summertime foods like pasta salads and fruit and vegetable platters.
"Damn, Mike, these burgers are amazing," Mercedes commented once they'd all sat back down, plates full of food.
"I have to agree," Rachel added, "They are quite well done."
Mike, who was eating and standing next to the barbeque with Tina leaning against him doing the same, wrapped an arm around her shoulder affectionately, "Tina made them. Her own recipe."
"You made these?" Brittany asked, awed.
"Mmm," Tina laughed lightly. "Sure did. And Lily helped me roll the patties. She's quite a wiz in the kitchen."
Sam, who was reclined back in one of the lounge chairs and opening a beer, looked over to where the kids were eating at a picnic table next to the sandbox. "Lilly!" he called out hastily, "Your burgers are amazing! I love them!"
"If you love them so much, why don't you marry them?"
There was about four seconds of silence before the snickering and snorting began.
"Yeah Sam, why don't you marry them," Santana managed to get out after she'd stopped laughing, imitating Lilly's trill voice.
Sam was fighting not to join in the laughter, "Oh fuck off, Lopez."
Multiple voices scolded his choice of language with the kids so nearby.
"Sorry, sorry," Sam apologized, "Not used to censoring myself."
"You get used to it," Kurt offered. He nudged Blaine with his shoulder, "Mr. Potty Mouth here was a handful to train."
"You jest, kind sir," Blaine answered.
Rachel shook her head at the couple and looked down tenderly at the baby sitting up in Blaine's lap. "Your Papa doesn't have a potty mouth, does he?"
Robert exploded with laughter.
"Traitor," Kurt muttered.
Santana leaned over to Kurt and whispered, "You really want us to believe he has a potty mouth? Please, that's like saying you don't pee rainbows."
Kurt raised an eyebrow. "Really, Santana?" he whispered back, "Because that blonde on your arm would imply that you pee rainbows just as much as I do. And knowing that blonde, she probably has you both pooping unicorns too."
The Latina snorted into her drink, causing Brittany to turn away from her conversation with Mercedes to look at Santana. "You okay?" she asked.
The brunette nodded, deliberately not looking at Kurt. "Yeah babe," she managed, her voice sounding hoarse, "I'm good."
Brittany looked at her intently a moment, studying her, before smiling and turning back to Mercedes.
"You win, Hummel."
Kurt nodded knowingly. They both looked back over at Rachel and Blaine, who were still talking with the baby.
Blaine bounced his knee up and down, eyes on the baby in his lap. As he reached for a carrot off his plate Robert leaned forward, both hands reaching out to take the piece of food.
"Oh, no," Blaine said, moving the plate away. "That isn't for you."
"Here," Rachel said, taking her knife and cutting off a small piece of watermelon from the slice on her plate. "Let him try some of this?" she asked.
Blaine took the offered piece of fruit, holding it out to Robert. The baby eyed the fruit warily before his hand flew forward to clutch the piece. He waved it around cheerfully; unaware he was supposed to eat it.
"Rach," Blaine intoned without looking at her, "Cut another one." He then slowly moved his hand forward, taking the fruit from his son. "No, munchkin, see, you eat it." He then popped the fruit into his mouth.
By now most of the table was watching the interaction, all smiling or holding their breath to see the baby's reaction. Robert stared wide-eyed. He gurgled at his father, reaching toward Blaine's mouth, as if to retrieve the watermelon.
"Here," Blaine said, taking the second piece from Rachel. He offered it to Robert, who, again, snatched the fruit away. This time though, he slowly brought it to his mouth, eyes on Blaine the whole time. Blaine nodded encouragingly, "That's right. Like that."
Robert seemed to understand that this was something he was allowed to put in his mouth, no doubt mouthing on plenty of things he shouldn't at home. He placed the fruit in his mouth and giggled, gumming on it.
His eyes then widened further as the watery fruit dissolved in his mouth. He swallowed, some of it dribbled down his chin, and then began laughing and bouncing about on Blaine's lap.
"Blaine, you just created a monster," Quinn smiled.
Blaine leaned down and kissed the top of Robert's head, "Who's Papa's cute little monster? Hmmm?"
Movement in her peripheral caught Santana's attention and pulled it away from the tender scene. She watched as Lilly skipped over to the adults, Jacob following behind her. She stopped next to Finn, who was sitting on the ground beside Puck, sans ice pack.
"Uncle Finn?" She asked politely, looking at him intently.
"Will you come back over and play with us, we were having fun before we had to come and eat but we're all done eating now, and you were really fast chasing us and Bear was fun when he was running around and you're just like a big kid too, so will you come over and play with us again?" She glanced at her mother and then added hastily, "Oh, right. Please."
In response, Finn lurched to his feet and took chase after the two kids. Bailey and Bear had settled on the grass in front of Finn and Puck, tails thumping loudly as they hoped for a chunk of burger to be tossed their way. But they jumped up quickly and followed, barking excitedly.
"Oh, my God, Tina, your daughter is adorable."
"'Oh, right. Please.'" Tina repeated, "Manners. I've taught her so well."
Quinn shook her head, "No, hon. She's adorable. And very polite for someone so small. She's just excited. Finn has that effect on little kids."
Puck agreed, "The dude's like the messiah of children."
"Jacob's polite too," Tina smiled.
Quinn's eyes widened and she blushed, swatting at the air as if to push the comment aside. "No, no. Jacob's all his." Her fingers prodded her boyfriend's side. The two were sitting together on the second lounger.
Richard barked a laugh, "He looks up to you, Quinnie. He wasn't this polite before he met you."
Quinn blushed further and buried her face into Richard's shoulder.
After high school, Quinn had left Lima for good and attended law school. The blonde had moved around for quite a while, hopping from city to city until she had finally settled down in Burlington, Vermont. She was now a well-off, high class defence lawyer. She had been in Burlington for four years now, her apartment only two hours from Brittany and Santana's place, allowing them to easily get together for Christmas and the Fourth of July every year.
Her boyfriend of three years now was Richard Waters, a very handsome brown-haired blue-eyed banker. Their first date, as Quinn had described to Santana over the phone, was "so romantic but not sappy or cliché at the same time, you know? I mean, we went out to lunch, but that was after we spent the day at the museum. The museum, S! How much more perfect can he get? It was so amazing, Santana. He's so smart. He knows all these random history facts, they just like, poured out of him while we were walking by the displays and he's funny and oh, Santana, he's wonderful. He's just so great. He's such a nice, sweet guy. He's smart, funny, so cute, and he listens and oh my God he's just so amazing."
Along with Richard also came his eight year old son, Jacob, who adored Quinn almost as much as Quinn adored him.
A particularly loud burst of giggles caused everyone to turn and look at where the rest of the kids were playing. Finn was running around at the far end of the yard, he and Bailey were chasing after Lilly and Jacob, while they chased after Bear.
Bailey broke off from Finn, curving to one side to cut the children off. He leapt forward in front of Jacob and Lilly and causing them to fall over in a tangle of limbs and high-pitched laughter.
"I'm gonna get you!" Finn yelled, running over to them.
The two kids squealed, getting to their feet as fast as they could. Jacob took off in one direction of the yard, running as fast as he could with Bear barking deeply and running after him. Eventually the boy turned and tackled the dog, throwing his arms around Bearn's neck and bringing them both to the ground.
Lilly started in the other direction but Finn caught her. "I got you, my pretty!" He laughed, pitching his voice higher than normal and scooping her into the air. The little girl thrashed about in his arms, kicking and laughing hysterically as she tried to get away.
"No, no, Uncle Finn let me go!" she shrieked.
Finn held her up above his head by the waist and tossed her into the air. The child screamed louder in excitement at the feeling before Finn caught her in his arms, only to toss her up again. Bailey ran in circles at Finn's feet, barking and jumping up, pawing at Finn's side and trying to join in the fun.
"Finn," Molly called, "Please be careful with her! She isn't yours; don't break her!"
"It's alright," Tina laughed. "Mike does that to her all the time. She loves it."
"Jesus," Santana laughed, "That boy is never going to grow up, is he?"
"No," Molly laughed, shaking her head, "Probably not."
Continuing around the table, next to Tina was Molly Mayors. Molly and Finn had gotten married last summer. Santana didn't know how exactly the two met, but they were clearly in love. Almost grossly so. Finn constantly wore his dopey-eyed look around her, and she wore her girl-next-door humble-pie smile twenty-four seven.
They were cute together though. She was a nurse and he was a fireman. Yes. Finn Hudson, fireman. That was a hilarious surprise. Like Mike and Tina, they too lived in Lima.
And along with Finn came Bear, Finn's massive German Shepherd/Great Dane thing. The dog was about as massive as they come. Finn claimed it was pure German Shepherd, and yes, sure, it looked like one. Except for the fact that it was about the size of a baby mammoth.
And it was because of this massive beast-dog that Puck had earlier been lying on the grass, groaning in pain.
Puck and Finn had not grown out of their bro-ship after high school. Even though the now lived in different states, they were only about two hours apart and regularly went out for beers or watched football together. So, naturally, Puck saw the beast-dog on a regular basis.
When Puck had stepped out the back door onto the patio, high fiving Santana and fist bumping Mike, Bear had been on the other side of the yard.
And it was a big yard.
The monster canine had had plenty of time to build of speed as he charged in excitement towards Puck, knocking him to the ground and basically head-butting him in the groin in the process. And the dog had a big, hard head. It looked like it hurt.
But Puck had taken it like a man. Only groaning in pain and accepting the ice pack from Tina, plopping himself down on the grass with a beer and a handful of chips. No cursing. No man-tears. Just a pinched face and the need for alcohol.
Noah "Puck" Puckerman. Santana didn't know what to do with Puck. The man defied like, everything expected of him. Voted "most likely to rob a bank… again" in high school, Puck had packed up after graduation, left Lima, and made a life for himself. Quite literally.
Somehow, Puck was now the proud owner of a karaoke bar in Canton, Michigan. Santana wasn't sure how exactly his bar had become a karaoke bar, but it had.
In a way it made sense. Puck wasn't exactly the big dreamer Rachel was. He, like the rest of the Glee Club, loved music and singing and performing. But like a lot of the members, knew it was less likely he would make it somewhere, with a record deal and an armful of Grammys. But Puck had managed to keep music in his life. Combining his affections for alcohol and love of music together to transform his bar into a place where people happily cheered along while their friends chanted the lyrics to old Elton John or Diana Ross tunes.
Jamie's high pitched shriek tore everyone's attention from Sam, who was sharing his latest impressions with everyone. The man had talent, it was a wonder he hadn't gone into voice-overs for cartoons, the way he could pitch and alter his voice.
"What now, sweetie?" Kurt asked, looking towards his daughter.
"Daddy! There's a bunny!" she pointed at the garden, where a hardly visible mound of brown fur was sitting under some daisies. "Look! Look!"
Logan took this as an invitation to jump up from the picnic table and throw himself towards the rabbit.
The ever-present dancer still showing in his movements, Mike swooped over to his son, grabbing him by the waist and hoisting the boy up onto his hip before he could trample through the flowers.
"Wanna see!" he insisted, little arms reaching towards the garden.
"You can see from here, my little tike. You don't need to ruin Mommy's flowers," Mike laughed, watching his son's face hold wonder as the bunny hopped under the fence and away from view.
Jamie skipped over to the table and climbed onto Kurt's lap. "Did you see?"
"Yes, baby. I saw."
"What colour was it?"
"And what noise to bunnies make?"
Jamie opened her mouth to answer but stopped short, confusion etching itself into her features.
"Kurt," Quinn scolded. "That's a mean question."
Santana watched with an amused grin as Kurt seemed to flounder for a moment before saving the day. He looked at Jamie and spoke lightly, "Bunnies don't make noises, bunnies go like this," and proceeded to twitch his nose a la Samantha from Bewitched.
As if this weren't amusing enough, Sam decided to wow them with his knowledge of the 60's sitcom by quoting and doing voice-impressions of the main characters. Santana would not have found it all quite so amusing had Brittany not received a box set of the television show for Christmas from her parents five years ago, insisting she and Santana marathon the episodes non-stop until they'd devoured them all. Sam's impressions were funny, but actually knowing what he was referring to made it all the more amusing.
"Honey," Tina whined once all the laughter had died down. "I thought we were done with rabbits."
"What do you mean?" Mercedes asked.
"Major. Rabbit. Problem," Mike explained. "At our old house. It was madness."
"I'm not moving," Tina warned, crossing her arms over chest and pouting. "I'm not moving and you can't make me."
"I wouldn't move even if we did end up with another rabbit infestation. I like it here."
"Me too," Jamie chirped.
"Baby, you don't live here," Blaine smiled.
This didn't seem to bother the little girl.
"Kurt, you better watch her," Mercedes said, looking at Kurt and nodding at the little girl on his lap. "With Rachel around, she'll grow into an even bigger diva than you."
"Wouldn't that mean he'd have to keep her away from you too, beautiful?" the man next to Mercedes asked.
"Damn right!" she laughed.
Next to Molly at the table were Mercedes and her fiancé.
Mercedes was the only one of the group to try her luck in California. And luck she found. The diva had set up shop in Los Angeles, and over the course of ten years, managed to work a slum little piece of property into one of L.A.'s finest jazz clubs. Santana and Brittany had visited her during the summer a few years ago, and the Latina had been impressed. The lounge Mercedes owned was classy, with a high end bar and live performers every night. "Showcasing some of L.A.'s greatest performers" the reviews stated.
Sometime during those ten years, Mercedes had started dating an attorney by the name of Anthony Rashad; the same Anthony who had been the wide receiver on the McKinley High football team. They had been introduced by a mutual friend and had been fully committed since. So committed, in fact, that they were now three months into their engagement.
Kurt, who claimed to have suggested Anthony as possible dating material for Mercedes back in high school, was ecstatic about the situation, and had bullied Mercedes into letting him plan the wedding. A match made in Ohio heaven, he kept insisting.
"Do you guys have a date set for the wedding yet?" Molly asked.
Anthony shook his head thoughtfully, "We're… working on it."
Mercedes took over, "We have a date we want, but," she looked pointedly at Kurt and continued flatly, "Our wedding planner doesn't agree."
"I'm not saying you have to go with my idea. I'm just suggesting you do because it will be indefinitely better in the long run. I mean, if you…"
Santana drifted out of the conversation as Kurt and Mercedes bantered back and forth about all things relating to hers and Anthony's wedding.
"I'm glad you answered the phone." Brittany said quietly, leaning closer.
The Latina blinked for a moment. She turned her head, looking the dancer full on, "What?"
Brittany smiled and continued quietly, "When Rachel first called? I was in the shower. I'm glad you answered it even though the display said Rachel Berry."
"It's not like she calls us that often. I figured it was important."
Brittany smiled knowingly, "No. You knew I'd be upset if I found out she called and you were home but purposely didn't answer it."
Brittany's eyes sparkled happily at Santana, "I'm glad you answered. Rachel always throws great parties."
"Britt, I think we differ on our definition of great."
"Well this one is great. It's sunny and birds are being chirpy and the kids are all giggly. We have Rachel to thank for all this."
"I don't think Rachel can control the weather, B."
Brittany looked at her seriously, "I think she probably can. I mean, everything goes her way when she plans something."
Santana considered this. In all likelihood Rachel did have some sort of magical powers, how else could someone so short become so successful?
Brittany leaned forward, her hand reaching out towards the fruit platter on the table. Her fingers hesitated a moment as she tried to decide between some blueberries and a piece of watermelon. Santana watched, intrigued, as Brittany's hand move to the other side of the platter to retrieve a cherry instead.
Smiling brightly at the brunette, Brittany tossed the small red fruit into her mouth.
"Did you know cherries are part of the same family as almonds and plums?" She asked, biting down on the fruit.
"Uh, no. I didn't."
"Mmm hmm," Brittany nodded. "Almonds? Isn't that kind of weird?"
Santana shrugged. Sure, she guessed that was kind of weird.
Brittany took the pit from her mouth and placed it on her napkin as she reached for another. "Did you know that dark cherries," her fingers indicated the fruit in her hand, "are sweet and used for snacks. The lighter ones are tart and used for cooking. Big difference."
"I knew that one."
Brittany frowned and harrumphed as she reached for another. "Okay. Did you know that there are more than one thousand different kinds of cherries in the world?" She held the fruit between her teeth and smirked at Santana. "Or," she said, pulling it into her mouth and chewing, "that no other fruit has been found that has higher levels of Melatonin than cherries."
"Melatonin? The hormone?"
It was the blonde's turn to shrug, "I don't know what it is, I just know cherries have it."
"Where exactly are you getting this information from?"
"Dunno. I read it somewhere." She grabbed three more and popped them into her mouth one after the other. "Did you know that in Japan they eat the blossoms too? We should totally try that sometime."
Santana gave Brittany an adoring look, loving the random facts spilling from her lips. "Any more cherry facts for me?" she asked, reaching for her drink.
"Um…" the blonde thought as she reached for another. She placed it on her tongue and bit down while she absentmindedly answered, "Cherries are fun to pop."
Santana snorted loudly and nearly spilt her beer. A few heads turned to see what was wrong and she quickly waved them away. Once no one was paying her and the blonde any attention she whispered, "Britt!"
"What? I had fun that night." She smiled, remembering something from long ago.
"Brittany," the Latina scolded, "We're in public!"
"What? It's not like anyone heard."
Santana glanced around the table for good measure. No one seemed to be listening to their conversation. "Yes," she agreed hastily, her voice harsh and low, "Cherries are fun to pop. But can we please not talk about it in front of our friends?"
Brittany giggled, "Sure San, just making sure you remember you were always mine." Her face brightened further, "Oh, hey, can you do that thing with your tongue I love?"
Kurt actually turned to look at them, "Are you two okay?"
Santana wasn't able to answer so Brittany spoke up. "We're fine Kurt," she smiled. When he nodded and looked away she glanced back at Santana. "I meant with the cherry stem, San, not that. Can you do it, please?"
Santana huffed and tossed her hair over her shoulders, shaking her head. She caught Brittany's eye, and saw the blonde was pleading with her, blue eyes big and sparkling. Well when she looked like that. "Okay, fine."
She reached forward to take one of the few cherries with a stem still attached from the bowl. Keeping her eyes on Brittany the whole time she pulled the stem off and put the piece of fruit in her mouth. She spat the seed out onto the lawn.
"Shut up," she laughed. Making sure the dancer was watching, she put the stem in her mouth. She fiddled with it for a few moments with her tongue and teeth, working it into a knot. When she'd finished she stuck her tongue out, showing the blonde the knotted cherry stem.
At that moment Puck happened to be standing to grab himself another beer. He looked over at her, eyes widening. "Kinky," he mouth.
Santana flushed furiously and glared icily before looking at the blonde. "Happy?" she muttered.
Brittany hummed in agreement, "I love how talented you are."
"Do not make me do that again in public. Now Puck's going to be on my back the whole night."
"Well," Brittany began. "I could alw-"
"Don't," Santana cut in, knowing Brittany was going to make a sexual comment. "Don't, please. I don't need you to say something that will only cause my further embarrassment."
"So long as Puck isn't on your back the way I am, then I'm happy," the blonde smiled sexily.
Santana could only shake her head.
Brittany completed the circle around the patio table, abandoning the cherries and beginning to play with the beads of condensation on her wine cooler. Her other hand was nestled in Santana's lap, were it had been playing with a bracelet adorning the Latina's wrist for the last ten minutes.
Santana and Brittany had ended up going to Plymouth State University; Brittany enrolling in dance classes and Santana trying her luck in business. A year in she dropped her classes and applied to the police academy, where she excelled beyond her own recognition. Years of being drilled by one Sue Sylvester had prepared Santana for the difficulties faced in becoming a police officer, and the rush of power she felt nailing thieves and crooks didn't hurt either.
The pair now lived in a small apartment complex in Concord, New Hampshire. Santana working in law enforcement, Brittany as a dance instructor at a small studio near their place. They got together with Quinn a few times each year and went back to Lima every year at New Years to visit family.
They also owned a respectable looking and considerably normal acting cat, Tiger. For its normalcy, Santana was thankful. Growing up with Brittany, Santana had begun to think all pet cats were either overweight things that glared at you, or hissing and scratching beasts that strove to torment you as often as possible.
The party continued on. Eventually the group moved away from the patio table and began milling around and having fun in the spacious backyard. Sam was convinced by Jacob to climb up into the tree house, resulting in Sam deciding he was also going to get himself on top of said tree house as a way of showing off. It was extremely amusing watching him climb down.
There was also a sword fight, Lilly sitting astride Molly's shoulders bearing her plastic sword down onto Jacob on Anthony's. Jacob had won in the end, but only because Bailey had gotten in the way and Molly had almost tripped over him.
Eventually Santana found herself on the far side of the yard, watching Brittany and Quinn act like they were much, much younger.
"Your girlfriend is a dork," Santana stated bluntly to the man standing next to her.
"That's why I love her. And I'm thinking your girlfriend is just as big a dork as mine. Possibly bigger," Richard replied.
Quinn was sitting on the kids' picnic table, ankles crossed and dress splayed over her lap. She was absentmindedly stroking Jamie's pink stuffed cat, which sat on her lap, while Jamie herself sat snuggled into Quinn's side. The blonde had a care-free smile on her face as she sang happily.
If you go out in the woods today
You're sure of a big surprise
If you go out in the woods today
You'd better go in disguise
On the grass in front of her were Brittany and Lilly, hands clasped and dancing around in a circle. Lilly was trying to sing along to the children's song with Quinn, but was having trouble as Brittany spun her faster and faster. Eventually her bubbly laughter took over, blending with Brittany's, as Quinn continued.
For every bear that ever there was
Will gather there for certain, because
Today's the day the teddy bears have their picnic
"I think she wants a daughter," Richard said after a moment of watching the scene before them. By now Quinn was standing, holding Jamie in her arms, dancing around with Brittany and Lilly.
"Quinn. She gets along amazing with Jacob, but she wants a daughter. She wants someone she can dress in frilly pink bows and play Barbies with. She will sit for hours with Jacob, building Star Wars star ships from Lego. But she wants a daughter."
"You…" Santana hesitated, a little unsure how to approach the topic. "You do know about…"
"Beth? Yeah, she's told me."
Santana nodded. Quinn and Richard had been dating three years now, she'd hoped the Beth thing had come up by now.
"She's a little afraid of commitment. She wants it, the dream. Happily married with kids. A dog. A white-picked fence. But she's afraid to ask for it."
"Whatever makes her happy. I can wait. She knows I love her."
"You're a good man, Rich. Quinn's a handful, she's lucky to have you," Santana offered truthfully, watching as Brittany dropped to the grass, Lilly atop her and tickling her sides like a madwoman.
"Okay everyone," Rachel's voice carried through the yard. "To set the McKinley High Glee Club Ten Year Anniversary Bash into full swing, I think it's time we get on with it and start singing!" There was a mixture of groans and cheers. "Come on everyone," Rachel insisted, "Let's party!" And just as the sun began to set, the telltale opening notes of Don't Rain on My Parade began blasting from the speakers.