And I'm Calling on You to Be My Lifeline
Summary: Tina isn't sure how Santana manages to mix her number with the crisis helpline, but now that it's happened she is determined to do everything she can to help. Santana/Tina friendship, Brittana.
Spoilers: Furt through Original Song.
Warning: I wouldn't give this a trigger warning say per, but it deals with use of The Trevor Lifeline and related mature themes. I'm setting it at T for now.
The first time it happens, Tina isn't really sure what's going on. At first she's sleeping, dreaming about the report she has to give tomorrow for Geography on glacier formations. The dream bounces back and forth – all the things that could go horribly wrong mixed in with a few ways the presentation could go perfectly right.
Then she's waking up because her phone is blaring Katy Perry right next to her ear. Why is her phone turned up so loud? Why is her ringtone so obnoxious? Why is someone calling her at – she lifts her head and glances at the red lights of the digital clock - 2:36 in the morning?
She rolls onto her back, reaches haphazardly for her cell phone on the bedside table, and answers it. "Hello?" she says as brightly as she can for so early in the morning.
There's silence on the other line. And then a sniffle.
"Hello?" she repeats, "Is anyone there?"
"Um… hi," a voice says meekly. "The, um, the rules haven't changed, right? This is still anonymous?"
Tina blinks, becoming more awake. But before she has a chance to question what is going on the person on the other line starts talking again, "I don't know why I keep doing this. But I need to talk to someone." There's another sniffle, and Tina realizes the person – girl, the voice is female – on the other line is trying vainly to hold back tears. "I don't… I don't know what to do any more and I just… I need someone to listen."
Tina is sitting up in bed by this point, trying to figure what the hell is going on. She knows that voice. It's meek and quiet and tear-filled, but she knows she knows that voice. Why she can't figure out is who the voice belongs to?
Or why they're calling her in the middle of the night, apparently thinking she's someone else.
The girl on the other line takes a deep, shaky breath. "We fought today. In the parking lot after school. I found out she… she started dating him. For real this time. Not as some stupid ploy to make me jealous. They're… actually dating. And she's happy and smiling and I don't understand how this happened. Why him? Why him? Why anyone? We were doing okay. I had apologized, we made up, we were doing really well. I don't understand why she went back to him. Wasn't I… wasn't I enough?" The girl's voice is so faint by the end Tina has to strain to hear.
She takes a moment to evaluate the situation as the girl on the line lets out a sob, mutters "sorry" and tries to force her tears back down. Tina still hasn't figured out who this is, and clearly they don't realize they've called the wrong number, but Tina isn't really sure what to do. She wants to tell the other girl she's dialled the wrong person. But at the same time, she wants to help. The girl is crying. Tina's chest squeezes at this thought. The girl is crying and clearly just wants someone to talk to. As long as they don't realize they aren't talking to who they think they're talking to, why can't Tina try to help?
"W-why," she starts gently, nerves flaring up, "Why don't you start from the beginning?"
The girl sighs, "Right. Sorry. I forgot. Different person every time." Tina tries to understand what this means but isn't given the chance as the girl continues, "There's…um… this girl. My… she's my best friend. And she… she started dating this boy. The," there's a pause as she sniffles, "The first time was to make me jealous, because I-" she stops abruptly.
"Never mind. She… she was dating him. But it wasn't real, you know? And then they broke up. And I apologized to her and I told her how sorry I was about what had happened between us and I tried to make it up to her and… and I thought we were doing okay. And then today I find out that she's… she's back with him. And I don't understand. I don't get why she's punishing me. Why is she dating him? He's just a stupid fucking cripple."
It's the way the girl says 'stupid fucking cripple' that a jolt of realization shoots through Tina. It's Santana. She's talking on the phone with Santana.
"I just don't see why she's doing this. I know I hurt her. But… but she has to realize how much this is hurting me, too." There's a long pause, and then she adds quietly, "I'm not the unbreakable wall everyone thinks I am."
Another bolt runs through Tina as she realizes something else. She's talking on the phone with Santana. About Brittany.
That right there is a whole world of trouble. Because no one, no one, really understands what is going on with those two. No one understands the relationship they have. It's complicated and messy and something is going on – clearly, if this phone call is any indication – but everyone just kind of accepts it because they're Cheerios and everything they do falls under the guise of 'best friends.'
But Tina knows there's something more involved. She was a member of that party-line last year. She remembers what was implied about the two; Brittany's slip-up.
"Um…" Tina tries, very unsure of what she should do. Suddenly very, very worried about what will happen if Santana finds out its Tina she's talking with.
"I just don't know how to act around her anymore," Santana says with a small whimper. "We fought a few weeks ago, and yeah, we made up, but it's been weird since then. We've been like, trying too hard it seems. I've been trying too hard. Trying to make up for what I did to her."
Tina is hesitant to ask exactly what it is Santana did to make Brittany so sad. So sad that she's run to Artie. Twice.
But she knows it's not her place to ask. She's already breaking a veil of confidence in simply having this conversation with the Latina because Santana doesn't know who she's talking with.
"Have…" she starts, very carefully, "Have to tried talking to her?"
"I asked her why she was dating him, yeah," she snaps, angry about having to talk about Artie. "She said he was nice. He made her happy. Lots of stupid crap I didn't want to hear. I don't understand it."
Tina knows she has to be really careful here. Artie is one of her friends. But so is Brittany. And so, Tina hopes, is Santana. "If," she takes a deep breath, hoping she doesn't overstep some invisible boundary, "If he makes her happy, then… then why aren't you happy for her?"
The line stays quiet for a long time. So long in fact, that if it weren't for the fact that the dial tone isn't beeping at her, Tina would wonder if the Latina had hung up on her.
But, eventually, Santana whispers, "Because… because she didn't used to need him to make her happy. I… that was my… we were fine before. Just the two of us. Best friends. I… I don't understand why suddenly I'm not enough. I don't get why suddenly-" she cuts herself off again. Even though Santana doesn't know she's talking with Tina, she still has her limits.
"It sounds like you really care about her."
"I do," Santana replies without hesitation. "She… she's everything. She's the one person I'm closest with. We've been friends forever. More than friends.
"It was always just us," she continues. "There'd be boys, yeah. We used to date and break up with guys at the same time. We both fooled around. But… we always came back to each other. I never felt anything with any of those other guys, but when I was with her…" she trails off.
Tina hates herself for it, but she has to ask, "You mean, you two…"
There's a sharp intake of breath, and Santana's voice is panicked when she speaks again, "I thought there was no judgement here. It's my personal life. I can hang up and never-"
"I didn't mean it like that," Tina rushes. "I just wanted to make sure I understand." Tina's realized Santana thinks she's talking with a helpline by this point, and is trying very hard to fit that role. An anonymous person who can listen and give advice. "I'm not judging you. Really. I just wanted to clarify. You… you're mad at this… boy… because he's with your best friend, when you feel you should be?"
Santana mulls over that for a moment. "No, I… I mean, we're not… we weren't dating or anything like that… we just… and then…"
Her fall into silence says it all. Santana is jealous of Artie.
They both stay quiet for a while, and then Santana mutters something and hangs up. And Tina's left wondering just what happened.
The next day at school Tina has Geography first period. And lucky her, she notes as she walks into the class room, the names on the chalkboard indicate she's presenting third. Wonderful. It's Monday morning and she gets to start off the day by forcing herself not to have a panic attack as she gives a presentation to a room full of teenagers who do not care about glacier formations.
Thankfully, after the late conversation with Santana – Tina still hasn't figured out how the other girl managed to call her instead of who she intended – Tina fell into a nice, undisturbed sleep. She also got up with her alarm; she's slept in sometimes and that always throws her whole morning off. She also got to open a fresh box of cereal – Corn Flakes, she hasn't been able to eat Cheerios since high school started, it's too weird. Overall, her morning hasn't been that bad.
So she's hoping the Geography presentation follows the pattern.
And then, as she's sitting at her desk and taking out her report, she sees Santana walk into the room. Right. Santana's in this class too. Tina turns sideways in her chair and watches the Latina make her way to her usual spot at the back of the classroom and drop into her chair. Santana glances at the board and sees she's not presenting today, so she leans back in her chair, pulls out her phone, and starts texting.
Tina studies the girl. There are no signs of her tearful, late night phone call. Her makeup is done to perfection, her nails gleam red as they fly over the keys of her phone, and her ever-present Cheerio's uniform is clean and polished, shirt tight against her front, skirt splayed over her legs.
Santana doesn't so much as look at her, so Tina can safely assume the girl never realized they spoke on the phone last night.
Her eyes eventually do lift though, as if feeling Tina's gaze. "What?" she asks lazily. If it were anyone else, Tina's fairly certain Santana would have snapped. But, as much as Santana won't admit it, she is nicer to her fellow Glee kids, if only slightly.
Tina hesitates a moment, not sure how to cover up for why she was staring. Eventually she blurts out, "Finn texted me. Glee rehearsal today at lunch. We're practicing for his mom's wedding."
"I thought that was after school."
Tina shakes her head, "No. I mean, yes, we're going after school too, but that's for our main number. Lunch today is because Finn wants to do something special for Kurt. A surprise."
Santana tenses slightly, nods, and then drops her eyes back down to her phone. Tina quickly turns away, and just in time, as the teacher grabs the class' attention and calls the first presenter up.
Tina stops worrying about Santana and starts panicking about her report. Public speaking has never been her favourite.