This is just a little stripped-down one-shot, not related to Lake Hope - though I guess it doesn't contradict it, either. It's set sometime toward the end of senior year, and I was prompted to write it by some of the writers' comments lately that Brittany may end up failing (and the subsequent spec that Santana could graduate & leave the show or go on to a spin-off.) I don't really think that'll happen, but if it did, this is the kind of scenario I could potentially see playing out.

Study Date

"What's the capital of Spain?" As she utters this question Santana glances over at the worksheet lying next to the pillow. Then, without waiting for a response, she bends her head and tugs on Brittany's earlobe with her teeth.

"Umm..." Brittany's eyes fall shut as she feels kisses travel in a meandering line from her ear down the length of her jaw line. "Scotland?"

"No." Raising up again with a seductive smile, Santana encourages her. "I'll give you a hint. It starts with M."

"Oh wait, I know this one." Brittany narrows her eyes, thinking, as Santana sucks on her throat. "Massachusetts." She smiles a little, pleased with herself. "Nailed it."

Santana looks at the worksheet again, starts to say something, and then changes her mind. "Close enough." She goes back to what she's been doing.

After a few more minutes of mostly silent making out, Brittany rouses herself enough to mutter, "Aren't you gonna ask me another one? I really want to graduate."

Sighing, Santana pulls back. "What's the point of learning all this geography crap? When Coach Sylvester is president, we're gonna conquer the rest of the world anyway. And then I guarantee you every country'll be called some variation of Suzbekistan."

Brittany sits up and grabs a book from the pile at the foot of her bed. "Okay, then... how about this one?"

Taking the book without much enthusiasm, Santana flops back onto Brittany's pillow, giving her a meaningful look. "Your turn. My arms are tired."

With a coy smile, Brittany settles herself in a reclining position on her stomach and slowly begins undoing Santana's blouse. "I love when you wear shirts with buttons," she says in a soft, flirtatious voice. "Each one is like a little adventure."

Santana tries not to watch the progress of Brittany's hands but doesn't succeed very well. "Okay, pay attention." Holding the textbook up above their heads, she asks, "What kind of triangle has two sides that are exactly the same length?"

Brittany reaches the third button and parts the shirt, then runs her fingertips lightly along the edge of Santana's too-tight bra, just where the tops of her breasts spill out.

"Well?" Santana prompts, making an intense effort to concentrate, even while chills raise along her skin.

Dipping her head, Brittany follows with her lips the line her fingers had just traced. "The Battle of Gettysburg," she murmurs in between kisses.

"Wrong class, Brit."

"Oh." She considers. "What was the question again?" She switches to the other side, letting the tip of her tongue dart out and make lazy circles through the flimsy fabric of the bra.

Santana tilts her head back and lets her eyes fall closed. "I have no freakin' clue," she gasps.

But when she opens her eyes, she suddenly stiffens up, looking over Brittany's shoulder. Through clenched teeth, she says, "He's doing it again."

Brittany turns around, alarmed, but then seems exasperated when she realizes its only Lord Tubbington. He's perched on the dresser, staring at them with cool disdain. "Doing what?"

"You know it weirds me out when he watches us like this. He's judging me, I can tell," Santana says. She sits up, holding the halves of her shirt together as if for modesty. "And I'm just gonna come right out and say it, Brittany. I think he might be a bit of a homophobe."

Now Brittany sits up too, offended. "That's not true. Lord Tubbington is totally pro-gay. He has all those rainbow stickers on his litter box."

"You put those there."

"Yeah, but... he didn't complain. Besides, if he was homophobic, would he watch The Rachel Maddow show every day? I don't think so."

Santana makes a confused face, thinking about this. Then she shakes her head. "Whatever. I just don't like him perving on us, okay?"

"Fine." Brittany sighs and gets up. She pulls the cat off the dresser, whispering placating words into his ear as she carries him to the door. As she puts him down in the hallway, Santana hears an affronted hissing sound. Brittany turns around, closing the door quickly and leaning against it with a reproachful expression. "I am so sleeping on the couch tonight. I hope you're happy."

She answers with a smirk, reaching for her at the same time. "I will be happy, as soon as you get your sweet ass back onto this bed. I needs those crazy hippie shorts off of you, and I needs 'em off now."

Brittany grins as she allows Santana to take her hand and tug her onto the bed, where she's pressed onto her back again. She watches her undo her butterfly-printed shorts and tug them down on her hips. "But... I don't think this is gonna be on the test."

"Well, it should be," Santana says, her hair cascading over Brittany's bared stomach as she crouches forward to kiss around her navel. "Maybe then school wouldn't be such a massive waste of time."

"Santana." Brittany puts her hand on the back of her head, regretful. "I really do need to study."

Santana exhales loudly, sitting up straight again with a great show of reluctance. "Okay, I'm sorry, you're right. Work before play." With one more longing look at Brittany's underwear, she tugs the shorts back up. Then she reaches across her to grab another textbook at random. "Anatomy. How fitting."

"I bookmarked the right chapter," Brittany tells her. "Mrs. Palmer said we really need to work hard on bones."

Santana gives a closed-mouth smile, shaking her head a little as she looks down at the book. "Just... so much wanky." She flips to the right section, then crosses her legs underneath her and seems to resign herself to boredom. "All right, let's do this. How many bones are there in the human body?"

Brittany bites her lip. "Is the person we're talking about tall or short?"

"I don't know." Santana gives her a strange look. "I don't think it matters. Tall, I guess."

With an expression of intense concentration, Brittany looks around the room, pondering. Eventually she asks, "Is this person definitely 100% human?"

Santana stares down at the book, searching. "It doesn't say."

"Then I can't answer. It's a trick question."

Not knowing how to respond to this, Santana looks at her, and then shrugs it off as a typical Brittany quirk. She flips through the pages, trying to find a section without trick questions. Her attention gets caught on something in another chapter and she looks down at it, then turns the book sideways and looks some more. Her expression changes from one of mild perplexity to one of comic terror.

"What's wrong?" Brittany asks.

"Nothing." She glances up, then back at the book again. "It's just this uterus diagram is kind of making me rethink this whole lesbian thing. I mean... holy sweet hell, there's a lot of stuff down there."

Brittany pulls herself over to look, balancing her chin on Santana's shoulder. They both gaze at the picture for a second, disturbed.

Then Brittany takes the book from her and closes it. "We can skip anatomy. I've been playing that Operation board game a lot, so I'm pretty sure I'm good to go. Did you know that the bread basket is really shaped like a slice of bread?"

Santana seems to consider not replying to this, but she can't help herself. She says in a delicate way, "I'm not sure that's right."

"Oh." Brittany seems disappointed. She plucks at her bedspread, suddenly looking worried as reality seems to hit her. "I'm gonna fail everything, aren't I?"

"No. Brittany, don't say that." Resting her hand consolingly on her back, Santana tries to get her to meet her eyes. "You've still got plenty of time to study before finals... it'll work out." She pauses, then goes on. "And worst case scenario, we'll ace everything next year. Second time's the charm." She smiles in what she hopes is a comforting way.

Brittany nods a little, letting these words sink in. "I guess." Then a hint of concern touches her features. "Wait, what do you mean we? I thought you were passing everything this semester."

"Well, I was, until I heard you might not make it." Santana shrugs, a bit self-conscious. "I just stopped doing homework... it was surprisingly easy. I'm even pulling a D in Spanish, and I speak Spanish." With a trace of amusement, she adds in a confiding manner, "Mr. Schue's about to wig out on me... I'm thinking about telling him I'm hooked on meth. Just for funsies."

"But, why?" Brittany demands, looking at her like she's crazy. "Why would you fail on purpose?"

"Do you even have to ask? Like I'm gonna leave you here in Loserville all by yourself. You and me are a duo... We can't just be split up because of some stupid classes." She searches for a comparison. "We're like Oprah and Gail. Only slightly less gay."

"Yeah, but... you've been talking about New York ever since prom. I know how much it means to you, Santana."

"Maybe so, but it doesn't mean more than you," she says with a pointed look. "So we wait one more year. It's not a big deal." These words come out sounding rehearsed, as if she's already put in both time and effort to convince herself of their truth.

"It is a big deal," Brittany insists quietly. "You hate it here. I know you do."

Santana doesn't deny this. All she says is, "We'll get through it."

For a minute Brittany is silent, her expression troubled as she mulls over this idea. Then she seems to come to a decision. "No. I won't let you do this. You're gonna graduate, and you're gonna get out of Lima. This year."

Shaking her head, Santana says, "Forget it."

Continuing on as if she hasn't heard her, Brittany says, "You're going to New York, no matter what. With or without me."

"It's my decision, Brittany." Now she sounds angry. "You don't get to tell me whether I can stay or not."

"Yes I do." She stares at her, not backing down. "I am telling you. You're going. Because if you stay here..." she casts about for a threat. "I won't talk to you. For an entire year. It'll be like that time when we were ten and you lied and told me all the mermaids died in an oil spill. Total silent treatment." She crosses her arms. "And you know how stubborn I can be."

As absurd as the threat is, Santana's voice breaks a little. "Why are you doing this?"

The sound of her panic causes Brittany to waver just a bit in her resolution, but she holds firm. With her eyes looking watery and red around the edges, she says just above a whisper, "Because I love you too much to let you give up everything for me."

Santana looks away from her, trying to hide her face. She brushes at her left eye roughly with the palm of her hand. The words touch her too much to allow her to respond right away. Finally, she says, "I don't think I can do it alone." She looks back at Brittany. "I can't do it without you."

"Yes you can." With a gentle motion, she reaches out and smooths Santana's hair back behind her ear. "You're so much stronger than you think you are."

Santana rolls her eyes heavenward at this, but then almost immediately is forced to bite her lip as her face crumples with the threat of emotion.

"Promise me," Brittany continues. "That you're gonna go to New York, no matter what."

"This is bullshit."

"Santana." She stares into her eyes, waiting for her to meet her gaze. "Promise."

Finally, Santana looks up from her lap. They watch each other in wary silence. Then, just when Brittany is about to press her again, she gives a tiny nod. "Fine." She shrugs a little, muttering as if under duress, "I promise."

To confirm it, Brittany holds out her pinky. Santana looks at it and betrays just the faintest ghost of a smile, which fades as quick as it arises. She extends her own finger, and they link them briefly.

"There." Brittany looks satisfied. "Now you can't back out. Because I'm pretty sure the pinky swear is binding under Ohio law."

Santana takes a deep, shaky breath and lets it out. She suddenly looks exhausted, and sad. "What if I leave, and you fall in love with someone else while I'm gone?"

She seems to have intended the question to sound not-quite-serious, but it does anyway. Or at least Brittany treats it as such, giving it a solemn answer.

"If we're meant to be together, we'll be together. That's all I can say."

"Yeah, well, I don't believe in that meant to be crap."

Brittany gazes at her, almost as if she feels sorry for anyone who can make this statement and mean it. "But I do."

Santana opens her mouth as if she has a reply already lined up, but Brittany leans forward on the bed and cuts her off with a kiss. She doesn't protest or pull away. She kisses her back, pressing herself into it, bringing her hands up to Brittany's face and sliding her thumbs along her cheeks. When they finally separate, they lean their foreheads against each other, not opening their eyes right away.

Then with unspoken synchronicity, they press even closer and wrap their arms around one another. Santana buries her face against Brittany's neck, inhaling the familiar scent of her skin. Brittany strokes her hair down her back, then presses her lips against her temple. For a long time they hold onto each other.

Eventually Santana loosens her grip and sits back on the bed. She looks irritated with herself for giving in to emotion. "This is stupid. I don't even know why we're talking about this. Because you're gonna kick ass during finals, and you are going to graduate." She emphasizes these words with conviction. "And then we'll go to New York, together. I'm telling you, that Big Gay Apple is not even gonna know what hit it."

Brittany smiles at her, appreciating the confidence, even if she doesn't entirely buy into it. "You think?"

"Absolutely. We just have to focus and get our study on, hardcore."

"And stop distracting each other with sweet lady kisses," Brittany adds.

"That too," Santana agrees, reluctantly.

As if she's had an idea, Brittany reaches behind her and pulls her pillow forward. She places it between her and Santana, flattening it out and then patting it once for good measure. "Me and my sister used to do this on car trips, to keep us from killing each other. We each have to stay on our own side. No crossing it."

Santana nods, seeing the logic of this. "A barrier. Good idea." She looks around, then grabs yet another textbook from behind her. "Let's try English this time."

Brittany puts her arms around her knees, listening intently, prepared to get down to work.

"What kind of poem has fourteen lines and is usually written in iambic pentameter?"

Gazing around the room, lost in abstraction, Brittany takes a while to answer the question. But when she finally does, she says it fast, like it's obvious. "A sonnet."

Santana's face lights up in a huge smile. "That's it! You got it right."

"Really?" She looks disbelieving. "You're not just saying that to make me feel better?"

"Brit, I swear. That's the answer." She shows her the page, careful not to cross the pillow barrier, still smiling with pride.

Brittany is immensely pleased with herself. The two of them continue grinning at each other, and then their smiles fade a bit. Brittany stares at Santana's lips in a hungry way. Santana returns the look. The moment stretches out and becomes heavy with tension.

In a low voice, Brittany says, "We should totally celebrate."

"I was just thinking the same thing," Santana agrees almost before she's finished speaking. She shoves the pillow aside and launches herself at Brittany, kissing her as if she's famished. They fall back against the bed, already breathing heavily and writhing against each other, frantically removing clothing.

The textbook is kicked aside by an oblivious foot and lands with a thunk on the floor, falling open to the section on love poetry. Neither one of them notices a thing.