So many thank yous to relax-o-vision and roamingreader for their help with this chapter.

My eighteenth birthday is the 27th so you all should leave me happy birthday reviews. Totally. Hint, hint.

There are some very, very dark scenes in this chapter. Trigger warning for rape and self-loathing. Please read with caution. Rainn dot org has resources and a hotline for victims of rape, abuse and incest if you want to talk to someone, and my PM mailbox and tumblr ask box are always open. I also have a copy of this chapter without the trigger scene that I will send if you drop me a PM/leave your email address in my ask box.


Sophomore year started where Freshman left off: parties, a revolving door of boys with chapped lips and strong backs and summer smells, getting A's but pretending to flunk because it wasn't cool to be smart, and Brittany. Always Brittany: they were best friends—better than that, almost, because they were closer. Brittany's mom liked to joke that Santana was her third daughter—the "good" daughter because she did dishes and fed the cats and picked up after herself—and that Santana and Brittany were attached at the hip. But that didn't mean they didn't have their own stuff because they totally did: Brittany had motocross and dance and one night stands and her job as assistant-assistant choreographer for the Cheerios, and Santana had... well, Santana had Puck.

Puck, who had strutted his way into her life at the end of the last school year with a proposition of I'm-Hot-And-You're-Hot-So-Let's-Be-Hot-Together. She rejected him, of course—just because she was a slut didn't mean she'd spread her legs for everyone—but he persisted. He left gifts in her locker and texted teenage boy poetry that was one part endearing to two parts disgusting, and then when Puck gave one of the hockey team douches a black eye because he had threatened to fuck Santana so hard she'd be inside out, she couldn't exactly say no.

But it was okay: she liked dating Puck. She liked having a claim on someone hot, someone to make out with at parties, someone to make out with when she was bored, someone to steal her trinkets, someone to take her out to fancy dinners (take her out, but not pay: bad kids don't pay).

Puck was charming. And surprisingly good in bed. The best of any guy she'd ever had. He was open to new things—to letting her take control, fuck him hard, scratch him up—unlike the dipshits who thought the only way for her to have sex was flat on her back while her legs were spread wide enough to drive a train through. For the record? Missionary was just about as fulfilling as the lunch period she had to attend when all she could have was a bottle of master cleanse.

So, yeah, fucking Puck was pretty good. She'd ride him until the ache between her legs went away. He even made her come once or twice, after he accidentally discovered what made her see stars. She wasn't in love with him or anything, like Quinn and her manchild boyfriend Finn were, but whatever. Quinn and Finn might be All That in the streets but they were Not That—at all—in the sheets. Quinn's chastity belt was wound too tight for Finn to get close without a rouge finger getting trapped. Who wanted a relationship like that?

So boring.

They were in high school. They had hormones. Puck and Santana were smarter than Quinn and Finn: fuck as many hot people as they could while they were hot themselves. Who cared if they were dating? Santana still fucked boys—and Brittany, but she didn't count—and she'd heard enough about Puck's conquests through the locker room grapevine to know he was still sleeping around, too.

Santana guessed that if Puck had been like, magical or something, the way Quinn and some of the other Cheerios talked about boyfriends being, she and Puck would have tried to stay faithful. But monogamy was like missionary: so overrated. Variety was exciting. Puck understood. Puck more than understood.

Sometimes, when Santana was lying under Brittany's warm weight, or pressing feather kisses onto her chest, worries would nip like rose thorns. Did she feel enough for Puck? Did she feel anything for Puck? And the other guys: sweaty, meaty, ungrateful boys she thought were hot under the illusions of alcohol and smoke, but loathed once the mystery—and their clothes—were removed? Was she supposed to actually like them? Someone had to, right? That was why she was supposed to sleep with them; that's why fucking them meant popularity.

And—she only thought this sometimes, when it slipped through, when she couldn't help but lace her hands with the briars—why did Brittany make her zap alive where no one else could? Why did she like her body best? Make her want to map out her curves and kiss her dimples and scars until they were more familiar than her own? Remind her of what it felt like to feel, like her heart was bubbling over?

But that was normal. Wasn't it? It had to be. Brittany was... the boys weren't... There was something wrong with all the dumb boys in Lima, Ohio, not Santana, okay?

It couldn't be her. It wasn't her. She was too hot to be broken.


The text said: 'come over babe I want u.'

She obeyed because she was supposed to—she'd be crazy to say no when her boyfriend beckoned. And fucking Puck was fun: she'd knock him back and push him down and fuck him until his bones were jelly and his chest was flushed crimson and shone in the lamplight.

But that night was different. She should have known—should have ignored him, stayed home, called Brittany instead—that fucking an angry Puck while riding her own wave of shame would be disastrous.

She just wanted to forget. Forget how she failed Coach, the pungency of her armpits, the loss of her tanning privileges, how she was forced to join Glee club and how she'd caught Quinn crying during second period. She wanted to forget how she'd never be good enough—not her friends, her teachers, Puck, her parents, Brittany—and how seeing Brittany in her bikini last week had made Santana take her in rapture in a shower stall once everyone had left. Santana wanted to forget how her parents didn't love her—had never loved her—and the way Brittany looked, her bottoms a scarlet splash around her ankles and her eyes shining so, so brightly while Santana molded against her like she'd disappear if she wasn't held down. Santana wanted to forget how Brittany's bronzed hair clung to her shoulders, how the industrial lights made halos, how Britt tilted her head back and moaned and how her skin was stretched over her collarbones like the flesh of a peach that Santana wanted to sink her teeth into. She needed to forget that. All of that.

So, she drove to Puck's. It was easier to fuck her feelings into oblivion than to remember to forget them.

Puck answered the door in a pair of sweats with ripped hems and a scowl, his bare chest and biceps glistening.

"Hey," he hitched his chin at her, standing aside so she could breeze past him. "Was just pumping some iron. Getting the testosterone flowing. 'Sup?" His eyes were dead and glazed over.

"I think that's... hot," Santana purred, placing her open palm against Puck's clammy chest. "I want to fuck you." She dragged a stripe down his pecs, toward his legs. His jaw tightened.

"No, I'm going to to fuck you." He grabbed her hand and tugged her to his room. "I'm not some fucking twink."

Normal Santana would have asked him what the fuck was his problem. Normal Santana would have left. Normal Santana would have slapped him and fucked him hard just to prove he was wrong.

But this Santana wasn't normal—her failures made her flash quick and hot, lest she crack open and cry.

Crying was for overemotional wimps.

Puck's fury was electric and overwhelming. He grabbed her and kissed her before pushing her onto his bed and slamming his hips against hers. His finesse was gone; this Puck was stripped down and animalistic. His tongue tasted like fear. She could feel his hard-on through his cutoffs.

"Talk, damnit," Puck growled, rutting up between Santana's legs. "Tell me I'm your man. Call me your shark. Tell me I'm enough, god fucking damnit." Something coiled white-hot in his muscles and he slammed a fist next to her head. He cried out—broken, mournful—and then he clenched his jaw so tight his teeth squeaked.

Santana was too afraid to speak; stop bunched up like a snapped rubber band in her chest when she tried. Puck cried again. He leaned hard against her chest as he ripped off his sweats. Then he tore her pants and underwear off—not like she tried to fight him, paralyzed as she was.

He knocked their pelvises together until he was hard enough to enter her. Santana was dry and tight with fear, but Puck ignored her pain.

"C-condom." It was a demand, not a request, however shaky.

Puck shook his head and thrust harder. Fuck. That hurt. Tears burned the backs of Santana's eyes, but she was too proud to let them spill.

Puck growled: "I'm so fucking tired of having to be responsible. I just want to fuck you. No condoms. Don't need them."

Santana should have thrown him off—she was smarter than that. She knew the consequences, especially with her petri dish boyfriend. But Puck was pinning her down and she was too leaden to fight him. His musky scent heavy was in the air—sharper than usual—and his dick was thrusting between her legs. Everything was spinning, too fast for Santana to gather her bearings and figure out what to do. She wanted him to stop. She wanted everything to stop. But she didn't think he would if she asked; she didn't want to upset him by shouting it or bucking him off. Besides, she couldn't—girls like her didn't say no. That's why he liked her: she never said no. There were thousands of girls Puck could fuck, and he chose her. He always came back to her. She couldn't throw that away, not now, not when she still remembered what she needed to forget.

Maybe it was because they had done it so often that her body now reacted on its own accord, like muscle memory. Maybe she was finally turning into the machine she feared she'd become, her responses automatic. Or maybe she was betraying herself again—the space between her thighs was shamefully slick.

She was wet, slumped into Puck's mattress so it hurt less. His sweaty deadweight was crushing her chest like a sheet of metal buckling against a wall. He was panting in her ear, little whines and feral grunts, his breath hot and sticky against her neck. His palms spread her legs until her hips cracked, which made her hiss and arch into him. Her fingernails tore wings into his back.

The noise he made when he came was hardly human; he sounded wounded. Eventually Puck pulled out and bent double on the edge of the bed, his thick hands hiding his face.

"That fucking faggot from your gay club tried out today." His voice was muffled and empty. "Kicked the fucking ball straight through the post. Coach loves him. Says he's going to save the team. That fairy is going to win us a championship and get the fuck out of here and I'm going to be stuck in fucking Lima forever knowing I was beaten by that fucking twink."

Santana tucked her knees to her chest. She felt like she was underwater, and all she could hear was the crash of her heartbeat reverberating in her tender skull. What had Puck just done? He took her, used her, scared her into letting it happen. He'd come inside her; she could feel the slickness cold and tacky between her thighs. She could smell it, pungent and dizzying. His sweat was drying on her skin and her mouth tasted like cottonballs and sour spit. There were red marks on her hipbones that were going to darken into ugly bruises. Her chest was crushed and her lungs were ballooning for breath. Fear clamped itself around her heart, but it felt more like fury. How could they? How could he?

It was all his fault—all of it.

She wanted to strangle him, kick him between his bare legs, hurt him until he felt miserable like her. She wanted to beat him—never mind that he was twice her weight. She needed to break something and make her own hurt go away.

Fuck. She needed to leave.

Now.

Santana heard Puck howl as she made her way downstairs. Then a slam—and another. He was pounding the walls.

The noise stopped, and there was another cry.

She wished she could destroy something, pummel it beyond recognition, until the bitterness and suffering and sorrow leached out and soaked into the ground instead of her heart. But she couldn't—it wasn't that easy.

She wanted to cry.


It rained on the drive to CVS. Santana's headlights were the only illumination on the dreary road. Raindrops pounded her windshield like a ream of paintballs; harsh and furious. They stung as she ducked inside the dingy store, burrowed deep into her Cheerios jacket.

The air conditioning made her damp skin clammy. The commercial lighting hurt her eyes. What the fuck had she done?

No, don't think about it. Get the shit and leave. Pray you don't know the cashier.

Santana slinked toward the contraceptive isle. Her ears and cheeks and neck were burning. Shit.

There—Plan B. And two pregnancy tests, for later. To make sure it worked. Santana didn't know if she was angry at herself, or at Puck, or ashamed of her stupidity. She balled her fists up by the ridges of her hipbones and pressed them there. She wasn't going to cry in a CVS like a pathetic loser or bratty wimp or a fucking pussy. She could handle her own fucking mistakes. She'd go home and take the capsule and scald herself clean in a shower hot enough to burn. And add tonight to the list of things she wasn't going to think about.

Fuck. Clean. Pregnancy wasn't the worst thing she could get. She was on the pill; an unplanned pregnancy would be the least of her worries. Who knew what she would catch from Puck? She was going to get herpes and syphilis and chlamydia and all those pus-wart-rash things they showed in Health. Fuck. Double fuck. Triple fuck. Just fuck. She was screwed.

No. She couldn't be. She wasn't. The universe didn't hate her enough to fuck the rest of her life over for one stupid mistake. Whatever. She was going to march up to the checkout counter, pay, drive home, shower, and forget this night ever happened. She was going to call a clinic in the morning to get screened, just in case. It was just precautionary. She was fine.

Santana paid and drove home. She grabbed her warmest pajamas—a pair of sky blue flannels on permanent loan from Brittany—on her way to the bathroom. She turned the faucet on as hot as she could stand, swallowed the pill while she waited for the water to heat up, and stepped into the shower still fully dressed. She winced as the water stung her eyes and blistered against her skin, but she knew she needed it this hot. She peeled off her clothes and let them slap against the bottom of her tub.

Then she washed. And washed again. She worked white shampoo and conditioner into her hair and soap into her skin until she was red and raw. Then she closed her eyes, held her breath, and stood under the downpour until she felt sick.

No matter how ravaged her skin felt, her insides were ice. The contrast strengthened the longer she waited for her stubborn bones to warm up.

She toweled off and pulled on her pajamas. Her joints were brittle. She just needed to sleep.

Her bed swallowed her; for the first time, her silk sheets were dark and cruel instead of sultry. Was her room always this cold? She shivered under her comforter, trying—and failing—to get warm. Her house creaked and sputtered, ominous instead of calming.

Shit. She wasn't going to sleep, was she?


The next morning's shower wasn't cold enough to jolt Santana up from her half awake, half asleep, sweatsoaked nightmare. The tap was turned as far right as it would go; Santana's teeth ached and her bones hurt, but it couldn't banish the necrosis eating her inside.

No breakfast. Instead, she called a clinic. The clerk was nice. Too nice. Her bubblegum voice hurt Santana's ears.

Her stomach rolled at the dialtone; Santana retched with the ghost of Puck's breath against her face. She brushed her teeth in another shower, this one as hot as the one last night. It still failed to warm her.

It was the weekend, so no cheer costume. Santana couldn't handle the miniskirt, anyway. She found another pair of pajamas and shivered herself to exhaustion.


When she woke up, the sky was dusky purple. Her phone was ringing—Brittany.

"Hey." God, she sounded meek. Santana cleared her throat and tried again; forceful and demanding, her insides anything but. "Hi."

Brittany's voice was lazy sunshine and sugar. "Hey," she breathed, "Where've you been?"

To hell and back. "Sleeping."

"Oh, are you sick? Hang on, I'll be right over." The line went dead before Santana could reply.

Santana showered again before Brittany arrived. When she got out, Brittany was stretched on Santana's bed, nestled in her sheets, hair windblown and spun gold in the dim light. She grinned stretched, supine, arching her bare belly out toward Santana. Then she scooted backwards: an invitation.

Santana tucked herself next to Brittany like a glass figurine in velvet; close enough to feel her warmth, but not touch.

Brittany sensed her trepidation.

"Something happened?"Brittany hazed her hand above Santana's breastbone; when Santana didn't flinch, she lowered it.

The touch, the weight of Brittany's palm against her chest—her heart—made Santana want to break again; but she was too proud to cry. Brittany rubbed slow circles, like a clock, and Santana felt the stitches against her heart melt until she could breathe again.

Closer, Brittany pressed, lengthwise against her. She widened her revolutions, pulling more and more of Santana's resolve with each swipe.

"What happened?"

The warm palm on her chest stopped her from seizing.

"Britt," she whimpered, too desperate for pride. "Britt, Puck was angry. We fucked and it hurt." It was a half-truth: the real reason she hurt so bad withered on Santana's tongue before she speak it. And once the smoke cleared, her bravery was gone. She burst into tears and clung to Brittany. It just hurt too much—all of it. And it wasn't Puck, either; something clung just beneath the surface like a virus, clouding the air with dread Santana couldn't shake. It wasn't being used—that hurt, but it wasn't the first time—it was something sinister. Something Santana was too weak to accept; something wrong that she couldn't name.

Brittany didn't care that Santana was defective, or that she was getting snot on her shirt. She just pulled her close—one hand flat on her back, the other her neck—and cooed until Santana calmed down. She gasped like a stranded fish while Brittany pressed tender kisses into her hairline.

And when Santana's syncopated breaths were strong enough that Brittany didn't worry she'd break her by moving, she pulled her closer, and breathed deep against her chest. Santana rested her ear against Brittany and listened to her heartbeat—let the reservoir of sunlight under Brittany's skin warm her, breathed her softness.

Brittany shifted under her, cradling her in the glen of her hips. Santana cried out when their hips brushed; she was unashamed when Brittany peeled away her shirt, but she couldn't help the pang when Brittany's face crumpled: ten slugs—five on each hipbone—were inked into her skin.

Britt traced them carefully, but the puffiness still made Santana wince. Brittany followed a scratch—was it from Puck or her nails as she'd showered this morning?—up Santana's ribs, and gingerly prodded the yellow-green splotch above Santana's left breast. Santana gasped. Brittany brushed her lips over the bruise, and then the apple of her cheek. She slid her hands to cup Santana's ribs, and then stroked the crooks of her elbows that always ached when Brittany touched her like this.

Santana should have stopped her—would have, on any other day—but god fucking damnit, she needed this right now.

The light outside Santana's window turned from afternoon to deep evening as Brittany touched her all over, brushing her fingers over Santana's skin in hot, soft strokes. Brittany smoothed the tension out like the creases of a shirt, tucking Santana back into her skin, and sealing the edges with kisses like wax.

Brittany's fingertips pressed words into her skin, words Santana would never let her say out loud. And when Santana woke up the next morning, curled like a half shell over Brittany's chest, her heart was full: she could handle the day's misgivings because Brittany was there—and she loved her. She had to.


"You really do have lovely eyes, Santana," Gayboy Kurt said. Kurt was the only actual gay in the Gay Club. But he wasn't gay-as-in-happy; he was prissy as fuck, but never happy.

And why should he be? He had no friends, no social standing, no real talents unless breaking glass with his voice counted. Sure, he won that football game, but had anything changed? Except for the safe haven of Glee, nobody liked him, and he was still slushied and swirlied and dumpster-dumped on a regular basis.

This was the closest Santana had ever been to him. She'd made it a point to stay away; talking to Kurt was social suicide and his flamboyance made her uncomfortable. He was one of those super gay kids that never needed to come out: everyone—except Mercedes, apparently, if how easy Santana and Quinn manipulated her last week was any indication—just knew.

The New Directions was scattered around in the choir room after the first Invitationals number; Kurt, at Santana's insistence, was reapplying her makeup for "Somebody to Love." Brittany was behind them, running her hands through the costumes on the rack. She'd been running her fingers through Santana's hair until it had become too much and Santana had to stop her. To break the strained silence, Santana had thrust an eyeliner pencil into Kurt's hand and raised her eyebrow until he offered to help.

Kurt was sweet, resting his delicate pinky against her cheek as he penciled her eyebrows in. He and Brittany talked about some dance thing they'd done at his house—See, Santana, that's what happens when you kick me out—and he and Santana bitched about the latest copy of Vogue.

Everything went to shit a few seconds later: April Rhodes was gone, they weren't performing, Barbra showed up, and despite the fact she didn't know the music or choreography, she was going to replace April because they were performing again. Oh, and she was back in the club.

Whatever. It's not like Santana cared about what happened here, anyway: their goal was to bring the Glee Club down, and whether it came down by internal undermining or the almighty hand of God wasn't Santana's concern.

Santana stood on stage with her back to the audience, watching Brittany tap her left hand against her thigh. They weren't pre-performance jitters; Brittany owned this basic shit in her sleep. She was just excited—she liked performing.

Lurch started singing, and the rest of the club joined in choir-like behind him. The choreography and harmonies were simple but fun; Santana beamed out toward the crowd as she dipped and turned. Kurt, high on performing, caught Santana's eye during a downstage crossroad and smiled at her. It was the first time she'd ever seen a smile reach his eyes; he was always so drawn and guarded that Santana couldn't remember a time he hadn't been curled inward in defense.

She smiled back, too, broad and almost proud. Performing was a high of its own.

Mercedes tilted her head back and wailed the last note; Santana stretched her hand out to brush her fingertips against the stagelights. And then the song was over, and the audience was cheering for them, and they had done it!

The greenroom was a flurry of activity. With an eyeroll, Santana let herself get caught up in the excitement: for all she hated this stupid club, it was fun. Santana noticed Kurt bouncing between people as they got ready to leave, his hair ruffled from changing. He handed something to Finn and beamed at him, his gooey eyes nauseatingly obvious. Santana didn't see the rest of the exchange because she was hurrying: the faster she dressed was the faster she could go home—with Brittany.

"Brittany, Santana, wait!" Kurt caught up with them, a smile brightening his usual pallor. He held out two pieces of paper decorated like a microphone—Cast Party was written in curling, glittery silver script. "Please come?"

Brittany moved to take an invitation, but Santana slapped her hand away. She glared at Kurt for a moment before dragging Brittany down the hall. She agreed to this stupid assignment for school functions—nobody said anything about spending time with these losers afterwards.

Santana didn't notice how Kurt's face fell, or how Brittany flashed him an apologetic smile. And Santana certainly didn't feel bad for her cruelty—she never did, so why start now?"

"That was mean," Brittany chastised as they slid into the back of Santana's dad's car.

"And?"

Brittany shrugged, pursed her lips, and said, "He's nice."

"Being nice doesn't make him popular. I don't want him thinking we're friends. We're teammates."

"He's my friend, Santana." Brittany drew the collar of her sweater up to her chin.

"Well, he's not mine." There was a leaden rock in the pit of Santana's stomach, and this conversation was the cause.

"Why?"

Silence. Brittany's forehead wrinkled in confusion.

"I just don't like him," Santana sighed. She started digging through her bag to break the silence. "He makes me uncomfortable. He's so... out there, you know? Why can't he turn it off?"

Brittany shrugged. "If he could, he would. He can't help it."

"Then I don't have to like him." That was as close to an answer as she could get, and it was true: it wasn't his fault he was weird—wasn't his fault he was friendless and lonely—but that didn't mean she had to put up with it.

And later that night, after they totally didn't almost go further than kissing through an entire movie, Brittany brought Kurt up again.

"He's tries, you know."

What? "Who?"

"He invited Tina and I over the other day, for 'Single Ladies.' He has a very fancy room. His dad's nice."

"What are you talking about, Britt?" Sometimes Brittany thought so fast she forgot to inform Santana about the first half of a conversation.

"Kurt. He's nice. He doesn't want to be capital-G gay but he can't really help it. I think it makes his dad sad and that makes him sad so he tried not to be. You're acting like all those people who are mean to him at school, Santana."

Something jolted through Santana's chest. "W-what?" God knew Santana loved Brittany, but sometimes she was just wrong.

Brittany reached over and touched Santana's cheek. "You don't like Kurt because he scares you."

Santana flinched. That was... no. No way in hell.

"Goodnight, Britt." Santana grimaced and rolled over. Fuck. She wasn't going to sleep now. Why'd Brittany have to put ideas in her head? Santana wasn't fucking scared of Kurt. He was as threatening as a ladybug. He made her uncomfortable, but he wasn't scary. He wasn't the King Midas of Gays; not everything he touched was going to leech his gayness.

And it's not like Santana had anything to worry about. Being around someone gay didn't mean she was. She wasn't. Brittany was just her friend. They sometimes... it wasn't sex. It didn't mean anything.

Brittany sighed sweetly—was she asleep, or doing it on purpose?—and pressed against Santana from the back. Shit.

No.

No way in hell.

Fuck.

Santana wasn't gay. She wasn't gay because she wouldn't let it win.


Santana's lips were stained crimson and sticky. Her tongue was thick and heavy. Damn cupcakes! Who knew Puck could bake? How many had she had? Too many. Never a whole one—and never the cake—but she'd swiped the frosting off of at least a dozen. They were that good. Damn Nana Puckerman! Those cupcakes were seriously amazing. Santana was going to have to do a million crunches so Sue wouldn't notice the sugar settling onto her thighs.

But she'd do it later, because right now her brain was buzzing and her face was tacky and she needed something to drink, but she couldn't get up because Brittany was lying on top of her, her mouth stained scarlet and spread into a wide grin.

"Your lips look so good," Brittany husked, taking Santana's bottom lip between her own and sucking it into her mouth. God. Brittany's lips were magical. Brittany's breasts were pressed against hers through their nylon tops and they were magical, too. Brittany was magical. Her lips were sugary and slick and so, so good.

Santana moaned and tilted her head back so Brittany would kiss her again. She felt good. What did Santana have to be afraid of, anyway? It was just Brittany, and Brittany wasn't scary. She was hot. She was kissing Santana's lips and dragging her fingers up and down her sides. Santana wouldn't—couldn't—stop her.

Santana's dad wasn't home and wouldn't be for a while. Brittany could stay as long as she'd want. They could order a pizza—mmm, pizza—and have ice cream and popcorn and maybe some breadsticks and oh god, what was Brittany doing to her neck? Kissing it, licking, sucking, not hard enough to leave a hickey because only Puck could do that, but hard enough that Santana could feel her everywhere and oh god, it felt so awesome.

"Your lips taste really good, Santana," Brittany breathed against her neck. "And your skin. You taste good. I want—I need more. Please..." Santana could feel Brittany's eyelashes flutter closed against the dip of her neck, screwed up in a silent prayer, please oh please say yes Santana.

Santana moaned—loud, too loud, but too late, it was already out—and begged, "Kiss me. I need more, too."

It was hard to say, because Santana never needed anything, especially not Brittany's lips and sugarcoated tongue, but right now Santana didn't care because Brittany was kissing her, hard, and her lips were so sweet and swollen from the sugar; they threw fuel into the fire of Santana's veins. Was Brittany always this awesome? How did Santana ever turn this down?

Brittany kissed her harder and Santana could feel her heart skip a beat, which meant she was nervous, but what could she be thinking about when Santana's tongue was laving the dimple on her bottom lip? Brittany opened her mouth to say something—or worse, ask something—but Santana dipped her tongue inside Brittany's hot, wet mouth so she wouldn't have a chance. Speaking was bad. Kissing was good. They should be doing more of it.

Kissing was something people never realized you had to do with your whole body, at least for the best kind. Santana shifted so Brittany could slip between her legs and rest their torsos together, their breasts and bellies pressed into a kiss of their own. She trailed her hands up over the delicate curve Brittany's ass and up the back of her shirt onto her strong, soft, warm back, and then Brittany moaned, and then they were really kissing.

Brittany kissed a line to the sweet spot on the angle of Santana's jaw, but too hard, like she had to soak in as much as she could before it would be taken away, so Santana sat up and tried not to notice the way Brittany's face crinkled in sadness. She probably thought it was over, but no, Santana was on fire and she needed more and needed Brittany and god, why did Brittany have to drag feelings into this? They were fine without them.

"My shirt." Santana's lips were slick so she wiped them on the back of her hand. "And yours," she added, letting her eyes soften into a twinkle. "There must be something in the air because you feel so good, baby."

And shit, the pet name just slipped out, but it didn't mean anything if Santana didn't linger, so Santana tried to calm the flush on her cheeks as she peeled off her shirt. She folded it and reached to help Brittany out of hers. She ran her fingers over Brittany's waist and hips and breasts—so soft, so feminine, so sweet—for the first time in daylight. They always touched in the dark—quick, mistaken, clumsy like a secret—because it was easy to brush things off and forget when she didn't have to face clarity. Brittany's skin was soft and pliant under Santana's fingertips. Santana fanned her fingers across the arc of Brittany's ribcage and felt her heartbeat thunder through her palms.

"How..." Brittany started to say once her head was free from her shirt, but she cut herself off. Santana knew what she was asking.

"As far as you want," she husked, looking through her eyelashes at Brittany. "I'm so fucking horny and you're so fucking hot."

"Can we...?" Brittany tapped her pointer fingers together and refused to glance at Santana.

So Santana sided up next to her and curled around her like a question mark, tucking her face into the warm crook of Brittany's neck. "You don't have to be afraid of me, you know," she whispered, "I lo—like you. I like you even when I say mean things. It's like I'm not even there, I swear. I don't even know..."

She was cut off by a sweet, sticky kiss that made her toes curl. Nimble fingers peeled off the rest of her clothes and then Brittany sat up, leaving Santana bare and shaking as she watched her shuck off her bra and skirt and underwear. Brittany grinned and stretched her chest out for Santana to admire—which she did—before turning and clicking off Santana's lamp.

The darkness settled heavy over Santana's chest like syrup, dimming everything until all she could see was the shadowy gold of Brittany's hair spreading like a slick wave over her chest as she pressed a kiss onto her breast, next to her nipple, so close that Santana gasped and shuddered because it was too much.

Brittany pecked kisses everywhere until Santana was lost in a cloud of Brittany, of spring flowers and vanilla and sugar and the velvet of her skin. She played her, pulled something white-hot from her chest like an artist drawing wire, until everything was saturated with her Britt. Just Brittany, only Brittany, in a fog of lust and fire and something that felt a lot like love. Like being loved, like she never felt unless Brittany was moving against her, pressing sweet kisses and warm touches on places that only lit up when Brittany was there.

But then everything was wrong. Brittany was moving down—moving down and kissing—the plane of her stomach to the dip between her legs and no, they didn't do that, because it was weird and gross and it meant things it shouldn't and shit, she needed to move, needed to do something, because they just couldn't and why did Brittany do things like that, god fucking damnit.

"Stop!" She clamped her legs shut, squeezing Brittany's head, before pulling them open so she could move out of the way. Her voice was too frightened and too high to be casual about it. Quick, make a joke. "What are you doing, silly?" She grinned, trying to pull Brittany, who had turned to stone, up the length of her body. "My mouth is up here."

"But I want to," Brittany mumbled, resting her cool, slippery head against Santana's inner thigh and drawing patterns on it. "I think you'd really like it..."

Santana's hips bucked. Brittany's head against her thigh meant she couldn't cross her legs to make the wet throbbing go away. "Like it? Are you kidding? It's so gross. Like, that's so not what mouths are for. Come kiss me, Britt. We can do it the usual—" and shit, they had a usual, "—way and then we can order dinner because I'm hungry, aren't you hungry?"

Brittany shook her head and pressed her lips against the aching fold between Santana's inner thigh and her mound. Santana let out a strangled gasp as her legs spread wider. Shit. Oh yes oh please Brittany please.

Brittany's kisses moved in, and then out again. She rested her cheek against Santana's thigh and placed her hand possessively over her hipbone and just... stared at her. Stared between her legs. Santana was too turned on to care; she was wet, wetter than she'd ever been, wet enough she could feel it dripping down her ass. Everything was aching: her neck, her eyelids, her lips, her armpits, her ribs, the furrow of her thighs—but mostly between her legs.

"Please, Brittany. Please." Santana begged. Brittany gave her a quick peck before placing a long, open-mouthed kiss there.

"Oh god, yes," Santana moaned, throwing her head back and closing her eyes and spreading her legs for more. Brittany's fingers were great—better than great, they were the best—but her lips were magical. "Please."

And then Brittany's tongue was on Santana before she had time to realize how pathetically she was begging, and her lips were playing with her, and everything was soft touches and wet nudges and she could feel Brittany's breath and nose brushing against her and Santana had never felt so open, so raw, so loved before. Then Brittany kissed her and lipped her and Santana almost lost it. Her back arched up into her and her heart beat all the way down to her fingertips and a pained breath shuddered out of her chest before she could stop it. There was a pressure building, between her rolling hips and in her chest, and Brittany was pulling her toward a precipice so damn fast that she didn't know what to do other than let Brittany keep going, let her breath catch on the edge, and just feel.

And then something inside cracked open, and she was falling hard—harder than ever—and then she was crying too, because there was wet on her face and her chest felt broken and she could feel stickiness sliding down her thighs and Brittany was there, wiping her face on the pillow and kissing Santana's temple and cheeks and eyelids, smelling damp and musky, and oh my god what had they just done?

No. She couldn't think about that. Not now, not when Brittany was kissing the divot under the angle of her jaw, stroking her belly, and running her toes up and down the curve of Santana's oversensitive calf. Not when her nipples were so hard they ached. Not when she wanted to do that to Brittany, and didn't think it was weird.

But could she? Do that? Touch her like she'd been touched, touch her so... intimately? She wanted to—she was aching to—but could she? Could she kiss Brittany there, find out if she tasted as sharp-bitter and earthy as she smelled? Would she feel the same as she did with fingers? Would... would Brittany like it?

Brittany rolled them over so Santana was lying half on top of her, cradling her in the nest her wine-colored sheets made. Her hands flickered—unsure, timid, like nervous birds—from Santana's ass to her waist to her shoulders. She finally settled for the valley of Santana's back that stretched between her scapula, and pulled her close. Their nearness was electric; Santana could feel Brittany's heart beating through her skin like a warm, pounding storm.

Santana held her close for a moment, letting her lips sink sweetly into the flesh of Brittany's neck. Everything was soft and kind: Brittany felt small and precious under her, like she'd break if Santana pressed too hard.

Santana kissed her way to Brittany's chest, sucking first one nipple and then the other, watching a warm, rosy flush creepy its way over her chest and onto her cheeks, neck and ears. She exhaled, shaky, and opened her eyes. They were a deep, intense blue that made Santana's heart lurch.

It was too much. But no, she could do this. She wanted to.

Santana ran her palms over the plane of Brittany's stomach, scooting down the length of her legs to the crest of her hip. It was less than graceful—Santana slipped and almost pitched facefirst into Brittany's ribs—but Brittany only laughed and brushed Santana's hair out of her face. So she can see, Santana realized with a shiver. So she can see what I look like—what we look like.

Santana nestled in the space between Brittany's legs. Her dip was obscured by shadows, but Santana could see the twin ridges of Brittany's hips in the ambient light. She kissed the side of her mound like Brittany had done to her before smoothing her hands across her thighs. She pushed her legs open, gently, and settled between her.

Brittany was flushed dark, deep pink and was so wet she shone. She was beautiful in a way Santana couldn't articulate. Santana had smelled her, but never this close: she was rich and heady and almost coppery. Santana leaned forward and licked a fold; she was swollen and soft and slippery. Brittany gasped, so Santana did it again, and again, hard and firm—anything that would pull sounds deep and yearning from Brittany's throat.

Brittany's hips bucked so hard Santana lost her rhythm. She brushed her thumbs over the crests of Brittany's thighs and moved in more. Her top lip brushed against her clit and Brittany's hands flew to her head. She brushed Santana's hair over her ears, frantic, and begged for her to do that—to please do that—again.

So Santana did. She didn't think, just closed her eyes and touched Brittany. Santana shifted closer and tucked her forearm under her chest. The fingers of her other hand spread possessively over Brittany's hipbone like a five-point star. Santana licked the plump, pliant skin until Brittany came, hard, around Santana's face.

There was a sudden draft in the room. Santana wiped her lips and chin on the back of her arm and crawled up the length of Brittany's body. Brittany pulled her close and folded her in her arms.

"That was..." Brittany whispered, twining their legs together. Santana could feel her, hot and wet and sticky, pressed against her belly. She nodded meekly and buried her face in the dint of Brittany's shoulder.

"Oh, Santana," Brittany breathed. Her voice was tender and it made Santana's throat close up.

She tried not to cry, she really did. But the tears came, wet and fast. She clung to Brittany and shook, overwhelmed with the closeness and the nearness and the gravity of what they had just done.

"Breathe," Brittany cooed. Her voice sounded sad now and it made Santana sob harder. "Don't cry, please. You were good, Santana, that felt good. It was... it was really cool. You felt better than I could have dreamed of."

And knowing that Brittany had dreamed about doing that made Santana cry so hard she couldn't breathe.

"Don't cry, Santana," Brittany pleaded. "I liked it, I really did, and you can too. It's okay?"

Was it? It had to be—it felt too good to be bad.

"Y-yeah," Santana took a shuddering breath and tried to ease the pressure in her ribcage. Her heart pried itself from its place in her throat and slowed down. "I just... got overwhelmed. Or something. It's not a big deal. I'm fine."

She'd just gone down on her best friend. No big deal. Not at all. She was fine. Totally fine.

Santana tried to match her breathing to Brittany's but she stayed a panicked half-step behind her. She was silent while Brittany struggled to brave the question on her tongue. But Santana knew it, and she knew the answer.

"That felt... like, really amazing." She turned so she could tuck herself further into Brittany's embrace. "I just... wow. I didn't know I could feel like that. Wow." Santana had to stop herself from talking more, from saying more words, silly words, words like 'I loved that' and 'Can we do that again?' and 'I love you'.

So she didn't. She just laid there and breathed and tried not to let everything soak in, tried not to clamp her sticky legs together and run away.

Lightening hadn't struck them dead. This didn't have to be a big deal if Santana didn't make it one.


Things with Brittany were... different after the bake sale. Santana felt a shock when they brushed against each other in the hall; her stomach twisted over itself when Brittany breezed by and she could smell her.

She felt closer to her, more connected: she could feel Brittany's heartbeat and see how bright her eyes were when she'd returned the favor that afternoon. She should have felt scared, or disgusted—she went down on her best friend—but her desire to make Brittany feel good had overpowered her caution.

But the intimacy was not good. It made everything harder; it made saying no personal. It made Brittany think it was okay to be all over her all the time—draped across her lap in Glee Club, twining her hair around her spindle fingers in class, trading almost-kisses like candy in the halls—and it was not okay.

And then Brittany thought she could fucking talk about it. Rule number one: no talking.

"I like it when we... I like Sweet Lady Kisses, Santana."

"Mmhmm." Santana snapped her gum and copied her geometry homework over for Brittany.

"I like them a lot." Brittany informed her. Santana risked a glance at Brittany's face. Bad idea: her eyes were shiny and hopeful.

"Your point?" Santana raised her eyebrow in the vain hope Brittany would leave well enough alone.

Nope. "Maybe we should... I don't know... can we have them more often?"

"What?" Santana squinted and shook her head. "Now? Britt, I'm too sore to get my mack on. We're in a library. I'm good."

Brittany twisted her mouth to one side and was silent while Santana finished a proof.

"It's just... well... I like spending time with you... and if you were sleeping this much with Puck—"

Santana growled. "Don't mention him, I'm angry at him." Stop talking, Britt.

Brittany hunched her shoulders. "If you and Puck were doing what we are, you'd want to go somewhere fancy for dinner. You know. A date."

Santana jumped at the insinuation, scratching a long gray line down Brittany's homework. "Yeah, well, you and I aren't Puck and I. Wait, are you asking me to take you out on a... a date?" The last word was whispered. Santana started scrubbing the sheet with her eraser, hard enough to wrinkle the paper.

"I'm not Puck, Brittany!" She hissed. "Ugh! Why would you even think of that? Don't mess things up. We're not going out, Britt. Not like that. We're not like that. Girls don't date."

The harshness of Santana's voice made Brittany fold up in on herself. "But we're..."

Santana tore a hole through Brittany's worksheet. She crumpled it, growled, and threw her eraser and notebook into her backpack. The muscles in her arms and legs were clenching—run.

"Yeah, you know what? We're fuck—" Shit, Brittany looked like she was going to cry. Santana softened: she wasn't that heartless. Brittany didn't know better—it had been a while since Santana had reminded her. "We're just... fooling around sometimes, okay? Not dating. It's just sex. So we're definitely not dating. Stop pouting, Britt." Santana slung her bag over her shoulder and stood up.

"Santana, wait." Brittany reached out a hand to touch Santana's. "I... I really, really like you..."

"I don't like you, Britt, not like that. I'm going home now—you do your homework. And don't come by for a while, okay? I just want to be alone. See you around."

Santana powerwalked out of the library, guilt gnawing an ulcer through her stomach. But she hadn't done anything wrong, right? There was no reason to feel ashamed—boundaries were there for a reason. Sleeping with Brittany in the daytime was a mistake: Santana would make sure it would never happen again.

She didn't talk to Brittany for a week after that, and Brittany learned her lesson—she didn't bring up what they did for a very long time.


"Dudes, this is serious. If she finds out she's gonna tell Finn. She's a total trout-mouth." Santana hears Wheelchair Dude—Artie—say as she and Brittany breezed past. They were talking about Rachel, and the baby Finn thought was his. The baby that was actually Puck's. Shit. Santana pulled her phone from her bra and called Tina; in seconds, she was connected.

"We just heard—who told?"

"We assumed it was you."

"And why would I do that?" Santana gritted her teeth. She was a bitch, not evil.

"To get back at Puck," Kurt explained, "Aren't you guys dating?"

Santana glared, even though he couldn't see her. Just because she hated everyone didn't mean she would spill secrets like that, jeez. If she'd wanted to hurt Quinn or Puck she'd stab and twist where it would hurt—without using the Hobbit and Jolly Green Giant. Plus, the irony of their situation and the impending shit-hitting-the-fan were enough schadenfreude for Santana to want to meddle.

"Sex is not dating."

And it wasn't; Santana didn't date the dipshit who got the Chastity Queen pregnant. She fucked Puck because it was convenient, but they both knew it didn't go beyond that. And Quinn had enough to deal with without Santana instigating drama; shit would hit the fan eventually.

"If it were, Santana and I would be dating," Brittany deadpanned.

What? Santana's heart clenched painfully and a shiver jolted through her; she froze, mid-step, her mouth open and her eyes flickering to see if anyone heard. Nobody said anything for a god-awful second until Santana swallowed sandpaper and caught herself. Brush it off and pretend it never happened. Distract them—now. "Look, I don't want to rock the boat. Since Quinn got pregnant, I'm top dog around here."

Santana flung her arm in front of Brittany when Mercedes told them to hold up because Rachel was walking by. Then, like the nylon across Brittany's chest could burn her, Santana jerked her arm back. Everyone talked around her, but Santana was gone. She stared ahead and ignored Brittany's concerned gaze at her cheek—after that, she didn't get to care about her. The hallway faded like watercolors until only she and Brittany were left. How could she? How could she? The line went dead and Santana snapped her phone shut. Santana risked a glance to Brittany's stoic face. She turned to face her.

Betrayal made Santana's eyes sting. How could she?Brittany's eyes were glazed over and stormy, but they didn't look sorry. Santana was going to die. Santana was going to die because Brittany told everyone.


Santana avoided Brittany after that: in the choir room where they found out Bush Baby Guidance Counselor was their Sectionals chaperone, when Finn started beating Puck up because Rachel fucking spilled, and the terse bus ride to the competition. Being close meant people would get ideas. Afraid of her anger and her fear, Santana twisted on her earbuds and chewed her bottom lip until they arrived at the auditorium.

She hung back as everyone else—Brittany holding Kurt's hand in excitement to spite her—rushed inside to sign in. Santana sauntered inside and found an empty alcove outside the theater. She sat down on the corner of a red pleather couch that stuck to the back of her bare thighs. Brittany found her a few minutes later, and slid into the slot next to her.

"They spelled our name wrong, Santana."

Santana raised her eyebrow.

"I thought we were the Nude Erections," Brittany's eyes twinkled. She grinned, trying to engage her. Santana rolled her eyes and shrugged: the joke was old and she was still angry.

Bush Baby bumbled her way through a positive mojo peptalk. Brittany, caught up in the excitement and determined not to let Santana's attitude ruin her time, nodded along and bumped her knee against Santana's.

Whatever. The house lights blinked and a buzzer sounded; time to file in. Santana pushed her way ahead of everyone and inside the theater. She picked the isle seat and, luckily, Brittany didn't try sit next to her.

The lights dimmed and a deep, smoky alto filled the room—and she was singing And I Am Telling You. Oh, shit. Santana glared through the rest of the song, but dropped her head in her hands when the Jane Addams girls rolled out in wheelchairs.

Fuck. They were screwed.

Santana lead the group single-file out of the auditorium like a funeral procession. Rachel rested her head against a pillar and Artie started ramming himself into a wall—something Santana would have found hilarious if she wasn't so heartbroken. The Deaf School was going to do Don't Stop Believing, and then what? New Directions would go on and look like they had plagiarized from a reform school and a bunch of deaf kids? This was it. They were finished.

Sue. She must have leaked the set list! But how? Santana hadn't given it to her—had played dumb, pretended she didn't pay enough attention to remember the list, had endured taunts and insults and two weeks of suicides to make sure Sue wouldn't ruin today for her. And Brittany wouldn't have spilled—she knew better than that.

To nobody's surprise, the Harverbrook kids sung Journey. Rachel called an emergency greenroom meeting and stormed out of the auditorium; everyone followed her after a moment.

Brittany jogged to catch up with Santana.

"I don't understand," she said, tugging on Santana's jacket. "Santana, what are we going to do? Santana, I gave Coa—"

Santana brushed her off and stalked into the greenroom. Kurt turned on them as soon as they entered.

"You leaked the set list!" He accused. "You don't want to be here—you're just Sue Sylvester's little moles!"

Santana sneered, incredulous, but felt the attitude slide off as Quinn walked in behind them to turn them in.

"I know for a fact that's true. Sue asked us to spy for her."

Traitor. Santana rolled her eyes. "Look, we may still be Cheerios, but neither of us gave Sue the set list." How dare they!

"Well..." Oh, shit, no. "I-I did, but I didn't know what she was going to do with it."

Fuck. No. She'd got to her—Sue'd gotten to her when Santana left Brittany alone. Alone and vulnerable. It was all her fault. Fuck.

The energy in the room deflated. A few kids—Artie, Kurt, Mercedes—glared at them. At Brittany.

"Okay, look, believe what you want," Santana crossed her arms and strutted away from Brittany—to get the attention off of her, to right this wrong—and addressed the room, HBIC false confidence in place. "But no one's forcing me to be here."

Everyone still looked angry. Shit. Quick, show a weakness, pretend to be like them—but just a little. "And if you tell anyone this I'll deny it, but I like being in Glee Club. It's the best part of my day, okay? I wasn't going to go and mess it up."

Shit. Too much. Now she was upset and vulnerable. Nobody said anything for a minute, but then Rachel pushed off from the wall.

"I believe you," she said, and Santana smiled at her. And now everything would be okay, because Rachel was in Full Neurotic Performer Mode. They had a ballad and a closing number before Finnocence walked in, clutching a stack of sheet music with his mouth agape.

"Mike, Matt, Brittany, Santana—you're our best dancers. Figure something out and we'll all follow your lead."

Santana grabbed the stack and brought it over to the desk. Brittany slid up behind her and leaned over, her hand on the small of Santana's back and her head so close Santana could smell her shampoo. Something floral and sweet, and a little dry.

"Are you still mad?" Brittany whispered. "Please don't be..."

Her guilt had dissolved her anger. "No, Britt, we're cool. I... let's just get through this, okay? What choreo do you want to do?"

They ran the group numbers once before going on. It was choppy and simplistic, but it would have to do because they couldn't stall any longer.

Backstage, Brittany quarantined herself in the corner and shook out her limbs in numerical sets. Kurt ran scales. Tina bit her nails, Finn scratched his neck, and Artie popped wheelies with the safeties off. And Santana just stood and watched them, too nervous to sink into a warmup. She tried to run over the choreography, but was too nervous—sabotage and cheating combined with the fact Brittany let it spill that they were sleeping together made her mind blank and numb. So she stood, felt her heart beat up her throat, and prayed that they wouldn't choke.

She could hear Berry all the way backstage—for all she hated and made fun of her, the girl had pipes.

Band, there, that was their cue.

"Game faces, guys," Kurt squeaked. "Smile through the nerves."


Everything hit Santana on the bus ride back, twined around Brittany on the seat above the back wheel so they could sleep without getting jostled. She and Kurt were the only one's still awake—everyone else had passed out with dreamy smiles and light hearts. Berry was clutching the trophy like a stuffed animal.

They'd done it—they'd won! They'd thrown together haphazard choreography and vocals after their set list was stolen, had no rehearsal time, and were amid a pregnancy scandal, so it was a miracle they had even competed, let alone win. Santana couldn't believe it, couldn't let herself get excited because she still felt like she was dreaming. She closed her eyes and snuggled into Brittany's hair, but the eyes boring a hole through the top of her head stopped her from relaxing.

Kurt's pale green-blue eyes were washed out in the dim light. There was something in his gaze, in the creases he was too young to have, in the line between his eyebrows, and the pallor of his skin that chilled Santana's blood.

He knew. No. He thought he knew—he didn't know anything. Because Santana wasn't... she wasn't. Because she couldn't be, because she was better than that. Just because she and Brittany fucked didn't mean anything—didn't warrant that stupid, knowing look from Kurt.

Santana tried to glare Kurt away, but the fear around her heart stopped her. She couldn't even hold his gaze.

Weak.

She squeezed Brittany to her pounding chest, holding her close to stop the bus from spinning.

"Santana?"

He was looking at her. He was looking at her with his stupid judgmental face. Just because he was gay didn't mean she was—he must have thought he could see it in her, like a flashing rainbow flag was tattooed on her forehead, but he couldn't see it in her because there was nothing to see. Nothing. She wasn't... gay.

Santana squeezed Brittany tighter.

Sometimes she slept with her, and that was okay. Wasn't it? Didn't girls do that sometimes? Girls were better lovers—better fucks—than guys were, because they were the same. And Brittany was her best friend. It just made sense.

"Santana?"

Nothing was going to change. Kurt was looking but he didn't have any friends—there was no one he could tell who would believe him. Everyone else had forgotten Brittany's slip-up in the baby drama, right? They had to have. Nobody mentioned it; nobody had looked at her, except Kurt now. She wouldn't have to deal with it once they got to McKinley. It was her word against his, and nobody would back him up because nobody else caught it. They didn't.

He was pathetic. Baby-faced with a voice like he'd been castrated. He was ugly and weird and his staring was creepy. He was probably looking for others like him, and shit, now he thought Santana was. But she wasn't—couldn't be.

That was it. She wasn't going to sleep with Brittany again. Wasn't going to let idiots like Kurt think she was like him—ever. They'd gone on long enough, and now there were consequences. Shit.

No, no more. Santana would get Puck back and she'd stop touching Brittany and Kurt would stop staring at her and she wouldn't feel so goddamn—

"Santana, please, you're hurting me." Brittany's voice was soft and strained with pain. She was twisting, trying to escape from Santana's harsh grip. Santana let go of her, and almost threw up when she realized there were red marks on Brittany's neck and arms from being held so tight.

What the fuck was wrong with her? Ashamed, Santana hunched over and pressed the heels of her hands into her eyes to stop the burning. Don't cry, don't fucking cry.

How could she? How could she hurt Brittany after all she'd done? It was all her fault she'd leaked the set list, because Santana had been too much of a fucking coward to protect her. She'd been caught up in herself—had ignored Brittany because she tried to make what they did about feelings and not whatever it was, which wasn't what Kurt thought it was—and had abandoned her best friend. She'd left Brittany alone and Sue had taken advantage of her and they'd almost ruined everything—and it was all Santana's fault.

She wanted to pound her skin, pound her hipbones until they shattered, tear at her skin until it tore. She wanted to hurt herself for being so stupid, for failing, for—

"It'll be okay, Santana," Brittany cooed. Her touch, her nearness, her smell made Santana's chest ache like it had been scoured. She was too raw to breathe.

Santana didn't have the heart to tell Brittany it wouldn't be—it wouldn't be okay.