Hold You When It Hurts

A/N: Just an incredibly angsty little oneshot that's been knocking around my brain and disrupting me while I try to write chapters for my other fic. Very, very angsty with a vaguely hopeful ending. Slight spoilers for Silly Love Songs.

Warning: graphic depiction of self-harm.

Glee!

Brittany lies in the bed, unable to sleep, reminiscing. Her heart aches and her stomach churns as she stares unseeingly at the ceiling silently recalling all of the other times she has ended up here, fixing Santana up, kissing her better and holding her while she sleeps.

The first time…

Thirteen year old Brittany knocked on her best friend's front door, confused when the girl didn't let her in. She jumped up and grabbed the spare key out of the hanging pot plant by the door and let herself in. Maybe Santana was in the shower or something. She replaced the key before heading inside.

"Hello? Santana?" she called into the seemingly empty house. She frowned when she got no answer. This was strange, Santana had called her and invited her over. Where was she? Brittany headed upstairs to Santana's room. "Santana?" she called out. "Are we playing hide-and –seek and I forgot again?" that kind of thing happened a lot to Brittany. She opened Santana's bedroom door and gasped. Her best friend was sitting on her bed, tears drying on her red, puffy cheeks, holding a bloody paper towel against her thigh, fresh tears began to spill down her cheeks as Brittany's horrified sky blue eyes rose to meet Santana's terrified dark brown ones. "Tana what happened?" Brittany gasped. She ran to her friend, lifting the paper towel and gasping at the deep cut on her leg. Something shiny caught her eye and she looked over, seeing a razorblade – the kind her daddy kept that Brittany was expressly forbidden to touch – lying on the dark comforter. "Tana?" Brittany whimpered, confused and terrified by the scene in front of her. Santana just began to cry harder and Brittany noticed the handprints on her upper arms. Brittany shook herself, she didn't understand what was going on but she knew she had to fix this. To fix Santana. She picked up the blade and tossed it in the trash then placed one hand over Santana's, putting pressure on the cut, and used the other to wipe her tears and stroke her hair. After Santana stopped crying and the cut stopped bleeding, Brittany left her to get the first aid kit she knew the Lopez's kept in the upstairs bathroom, taking it back to Santana. Brittany knew how to clean and dress a cut. Despite being a really good dancer Brittany's co-ordination was terrible and she was incredibly accident prone; especially in the kitchen with the sharp knives. She had brought a damp cloth with her too and she used it to gently clean the blood from Santana's thigh, careful not to reopen the cut and make it bleed again. She gently applied some antiseptic, wincing when Santana flinched and gasped at the stinging. The cut was surprisingly shallow, given how much it had bleed and so Brittany covered it with a piece of gauze and then applied some sticky tape to hold the gauze in place. When she was finished she leaned over and planted a gentle kiss in the middle of the gauze before she took the first aid kit back to the bathroom, rinsed the cloth and carefully put the wrapper from the gauze in her pocket so that Santana's parents wouldn't find it and ask what she had needed it for. Brittany didn't understand what was going on but she knew that Santana didn't want her mom and dad to know. Why else would she have called Brittany instead of her Doctor father? Brittany went back to Santana, tugging her up the bed to lie down and cuddling into her. She sang softly to the smaller girl until her breathing evened out and she fell into a peaceful sleep.

Brittany still can't figure out why they keep falling back into this routine. She still has no idea why Santana does it, time and time again, despite her swearing and promising after each time that she won't do it anymore, that she'll stop. And she does, for a while, but inevitably she always reverts back to this and somehow Brittany knows better than to question it or push her. Brittany sighs as the brunette shifts against her, rolling onto her stomach, wincing briefly as she knocks the fresh damage to her thigh against the bed, before pressing her face tightly into the crook of Brittany's neck and settling back into sleep.

The second time…

It had been nearly two years since that day in Santana's room, for Brittany it was a memory that although faded, plagued her mind when she was alone and sleepless in the depths of the night.

It was 2am when her brand new cell phone rang.

"Hello?" the blonde asked sleepily.

"BrittBritt?" came the shaky reply.

"Santana what's wrong?" Brittany asked, concern chasing the last remnants of sleep from her body.

"Britt I'm scared. I need you," Santana whimpered."Please, can you come?" Of course Brittany went. She ran the couple of miles to Santana's house in the dark and climbed the trellis up to her window, finding in unlocked and open.

"Santana?" Brittany whispered, not wanting to alert the girl's parents to her presence. The other girl didn't answer, she was sitting on the end of the bed and as Brittany moved to stand in front of her she was hit with a sense of déjà vu. Santana was sitting on the bed, tears drying on her cheeks, a blood soaked cloth held tight to her leg. Brittany gasped as Santana tilted her face up and she saw the blackening eye and the tiny split on her lip. Brittany wordlessly plucked the razor blade from the girl's other hand, throwing it in the trash before she turned and crept out of the room to retrieve the first aid kit and a cloth. She came back and carefully began tending to the other girl's leg. This time there was one viciously deep cut followed by six or seven shallow scratches. The biggest cut was deep and bleeding profusely. It scared Brittany badly that Santana was capable of doing this to herself. "Tana," she whispered, using the nickname she hadn't used in almost two years. "I think this needs stitches," she said, gently stroking the skin alongside the large cut.

"No, no, nonononono," Santana whimpered; shaking her head furiously and reaching out to grab Brittany's hand tightly. "No doctors. Please B, Please fix it? I know you can. Please?" she pleaded desperately. Brittany swallowed hard. She had taken a first aid course before but theory and practice were two different beasts. The blonde took a deep breath and pulled her hand from Santana's so that she could rummage through the first aid kit. She cleaned the cut before rummaging through the kit again until she found what she was after; a packet of Leukostrip butterfly stitches, and opened it, cutting a couple of the long strips in half. She pulled the backing off one and looked down at Santana's cut.

"Sorry," she whispered, wincing as she carefully pinched the edges of the cut together, causing Santana to hiss through her teeth in pain. She carefully placed the strips over the cut, sitting back on her heels when she was done, strangely proud of her neat work. She dug a large piece of gauze out of the first aid kit, and taped it gently over Santana's injured leg. She bent and placed a sweet, gentle kiss over the bright white gauze. Santana's hand rested briefly on the back of Brittany's head as she kissed her leg, the dark haired girl letting out a pained whimper at the sheer sweetness and the distant familiarity of the gesture. Once the first aid kit was put away, Brittany took her hand and tugged her to get her back into her bed, tucking her in gently and lovingly, before climbing in next to her. Santana turned her head to stare sadly at Brittany, who promptly leaned in to plant loving kisses on her forehead, her cheeks, her eyelids and her nose before she planted a lingering kiss on her lips, wary of the split. The pain in the sky blue eyes almost killed Santana on the spot. She cuddled close to Brittany, tucking her face against the blonde's neck so that she didn't have to look at her eyes anymore. She lifted her face when she felt Brittany's throat muscles working against her face, finding the girl fighting tears.

"I love you Tana. And I hate when you hurt yourself. It makes me hurt, here," Brittany pointed to her chest, right over her heart. Santana leaned forward and pressed a lingering kiss to the spot she had pointed to.

"I don't mean to make you hurt," she whispered, reaching up to tangle her hands in thick blonde hair, before kissing Brittany gently."I'm sorry," she whispered before tucking herself up against the blonde again, the girl's sweet scent and soothing heartbeat and the distant throbbing of her own leg sending Santana into a calm and dreamless sleep.

It becomes a regular routine after that. First it's every six weeks or so, then every month and now every fortnight. It always happens the same way. Santana calls, Brittany rushes over, cleans and dresses the increasingly nasty cuts, presses a kiss to the gauze and then curls up with the smaller girl – who, each time, presses a kiss to the blonde's chest, over her aching heart– and holds her until she falls asleep, leaving Brittany alone with her still somewhat confused thoughts. After that second night she had googled what Santana had done to herself and learned a little about self-harm. She understands what it is now, can put a name to the concept, but she still can't figure out how inflicting pain on your body can take away the pain in your heart. It bothers her; she wants to understand Santana so she can help her but she just doesn't understand. On some level Brittany knows she should tell someone, but on another she knows that that if she does that then Santana will stop calling and then who knows what could happen. Santana shifts against her again, trying to snuggle in closer still and tucking her face even tighter against the blonde's neck. Brittany tightens her arms around her waist and plants kisses in her glossy black hair until she settles again, her breath warm against Brittany's neck. Brittany thinks back over all of the times she's done this, just like she has a million times before, and wonders why? Why does Santana do this? Sometimes the blonde can figure out what set her best friend off, those first two nights she had bruises that Brittany now knows Santana's father inflicted in fits of drunken rage, but recently it's become harder to isolate anything in particular. This time Brittany knows exactly what set her off; what made it so much worse tonight.

Santana had gotten snarky and mean with Finn in Glee when he told them about his idea of having a kissing booth for Valentine's Day and he had called her out on her bitchiness. When Santana tried to brush it off, the whole Glee Club had turned on her, tearing her down and when they had brought her to her knees, Rachel had delivered a last cruel blow: "The only job you're going to have, is working on a pole!" Santana had fled the room in tears. Brittany had consoled her throughout the day, then gone home and waited for the inevitable call. It came just before 11pm.

"Tana," Brittany sighed into the phone.

"Please?" was all Santana needed to say.

"I'm coming," Brittany replied, hanging up, slipping on her shoes, grabbing her coat and climbing silently out of her window. When she arrived, Brittany had wordlessly, as usual, taken the razorblade from Santana, put it back in its wrapper and tossed it in the trash. She knew it was pointless throwing it out. She knew that Santana would just retrieve it later but it was just as pointless taking them home to throw them out. Santana would just buy more or find something else. She stroked Santana's soft black hair and kissed her cheek before going to retrieve the supplies that Santana now kept stashed in her closet. She opened an antiseptic wipe and lifted the cloth off Santana's thigh, a little surprised when Santana resisted before giving in and letting her remove it. She soon saw the reason for her resistance. Tears welled in Brittany's eyes, a lump formed in her throat and a sob escaped before she could stop it at the sight of what Santana had done to herself tonight. Up high on her leg, right below the crease where leg met hip, Santana had used her razorblade to carve a word into her beautiful skin: worthless. Tears poured down the blonde's cheeks as she stared at the raised reddened flesh.

"Oh Tana," she choked out quietly.

"I am," Santana whispered. Her voice flat and emotionless.

"No," Brittany said firmly. "No you are not." The blonde put the antiseptic wipe aside and knelt in front of the Latina, she cupped her cheeks in both hands and leaned in to kiss her face. She kissed her cheeks, chin, nose, eyelids, and lips, punctuating each small peck with a sweetly whispered word. "Beautiful…courageous…funny…sweet…loving…charming…generous…amazing…precious," Brittany finally pulled away, pressing a longer kiss to her lips before wiping her own cheeks with her sleeve and picking up the antiseptic wipe again. By the time she finished cleaning and dressing, the image of that word, worthless, standing stark and crimson against Santana's beautiful tan skin was burned into her brain forever. Brittany, still crouched between Santana's knees, leaned in to kiss the gauze as always, but instead of pulling back she had moved her lips over Santana's thighs, trailing them gently over the every last scar, faded, healed and healing.

"I'm sorry B," came the choked whisper above her. "I shouldn't put you through this," her voice broke and she sucked in a stuttering, sobbing breath. "But it hurts!" she sobbed.

"I'll always hold you when it hurts, Tana. Always," Brittany replied, her own voice reduced to broken sobs.

Lying here now Brittany knows that's the truest most honest promise that she has ever made to anyone. She strokes a hand over Santana's hair and down her back as tears trickle from the corners of her eyes and drip off of her nose and collect on the pillow beneath her cheek. She sucks in a shaky breath and the girl in her arms rouses. She lifts her head, her pretty face taking on a pained expression when she sees the blonde's tears and the anguish in her normally contagiously happy, sky blue eyes. Santana wipes her tears away with her thumbs as tears of her own spill down tan cheeks.

"BrittBritt. I'm so sorry," she whispers. "I'm causing you so much pain."

"I'd rather you hurt me too than hurt alone," Brittany chokes out miserably and it's the truth, Santana can see it in those eyes. Suddenly Santana leaps up off the bed, her eyes bright with a resolve and strength that until this moment Brittany had no idea the smaller girl possessed. She walks over to her dresser, throwing open a drawer. She pulls out a small box and drops it on the bed, then she retrieves the razorblade that Brittany dumped in the trash earlier. Her box of first aid supplies comes next along with another small box from somewhere in her closet.

"Come on," Santana demands, tugging at Brittany's hand. She grabs her house keys off of her dresser before dragging Brittany downstairs and outside, not stopping until she reaches the wheelie bin sitting on the curb, waiting to be emptied in the early hours of the morning. Santana dumps everything in her arms into the bin before slamming the lid down. "Gone," she states, a look of almost delirious freedom crossing her features. "No more," she tells Brittany, dark eyes locking onto bright blue in an attempt to convey that her words were truth, before tugging the blonde back inside. They wash their hands before sneaking back into Santana's room and curling up on the bed again. "No more," Santana repeats her earlier statement, placing several soft kisses over Brittany's heart. She rests her head against her chest and lays a hand over the spot she just kissed, letting the gentle, soothing rhythm of her best friends heart beat lull her to sleep.

"Ok Tana," Brittany whispers to the sleeping girl.

Brittany lies in the bed unable to sleep, reminiscing. Her heart aches and her stomach churns as she stares unseeingly at the ceiling, silently recalling all of the other times she has ended up here. Maybe Santana will keep her word this time, but there's just as good a chance that she won't. Maybe she'll inflict more scars on her skin (and invisible, matching scars on Brittany's heart) and maybe one day Brittany will start to resent her for it. But there's something Brittany knows for certain; as much as it hurts and although she's not sure she'll ever figure out how inflicting pain on your body can take away the pain in your heart, Brittany will be there to fix Santana up, to kiss her better and to hold her while she sleeps. Always.

Fin.