A/N:Posting this chapter a day earlier than usual due to university things getting in the way. Though I'm sure you guys don't mind getting it a day early, do you? I really hope you've all enjoyed reading this. Thank you for all the wonderful reviews. Here's the final part.
It seems like only days ago when the New Directions and the Warblers tied at Sectionals, but here they are. Regionals.
The group is sitting in a large auditorium, a small lake of blue and black among a sea of colours from the rest of the audience.
Artie's sitting on the end – technically he's in the aisle, since he's in his wheelchair – with Brittany sitting next to him. Santana is snug in between Brittany and Tina, and Mike is on Tina's other side.
At the moment they're watching Kurt and his finally-a-boyfriend sing their duet. The two are adorable. Kurt looks nervous, but both of them are doing really well. Rachel is sitting in the seat in front of Tina, beaming. She got overly excited when the Warblers came out on stage and stood up and clapped and cheered louder than anyone else. Excitable Rachel is fun.
But it doesn't take long for the choir on stage to finish their Pink number and that means it's their turn soon.
Green room. Last minute hugs. Lots of good luck wishes. Warm smiles. Clasped hands. And then they're waiting in the wings as Rachel goes out first, singing her solo. And it's really good. For all their belly flops in the choir room trying to write their original songs, Rachel finally nailed it.
And then Tina and Brittany are walking out on stage, singing backup to Rachel. Then the rest of the girls. Then the guys. Applause. Loud, loud applause. Then the music for their second song starts and Tina just smiles, opens her mouth and sings.
It's a blur. She's running so high on emotion and happiness right now she wouldn't even notice if half the group simultaneously tripped and fell off the stage and ruined the song she's so elated.
Then they're tossing red confetti onto the crowd and it's all over.
One of them screams first – Tina think its Brittany, standing next to her – and then suddenly they're all screaming and laughing and jumping up and down cheering.
They did it. They're going to Nationals.
Mike mauls her from behind, wrapping his arms around her in a bear hug as she continues to bounce on the stage excitedly. She tilts her head up and kisses his chin quickly, then spins and throws her arms around his neck, laughing all the while.
Then she's being pulled away as Brittany's arms encircle her. The blonde squeezes Tina's tiny frame and Tina squeezes back just has hard; they're both trying to soak up each other's excitement. Brittany pulls away first, kissing Tina's cheek squealing, "We did it!" before turning and pouncing on Quinn.
Santana is half-hugging, half-high fiving with Puck. Tina waits until they break apart and then she runs the three steps between them and throws her arms around the Latina just as Rachel's delighted laughter sounds louder over all their voices as she and Mr. Schue hold up the trophy. The whole audience is cheering loudly for them.
Santana hugs her tightly, and when they break apart she grabs Tina's hand and doesn't let go. "I can't believe it!" she laughs, eyes sparkling.
"I totally can!" Tina giggles, squeezing her hand.
There are a few people on stage now trying to calm them down long enough to take a group picture. They organize themselves into a messy bundle of limbs and bodies and bright smiles as the camera flashes over and over.
When its ends Tina looks around; the audience is slowly clearing and Aural Intensity is gone, Coach Sylvester was livid at her team's loss. She can see the Warblers off-stage, Kurt and his finally-a-boyfriend standing hand in hand, smiling at them. Kurt gives her a happy thumbs up. She blows a kiss at him.
Then she turns and squeezes Santana's hand – Santana still hasn't let go – to get the girl's attention.
"Yeah?" she giggles, still high off the excitement of winning.
"Now would be the time, you know."
Santana's happy face is slowly turning into a look of confusion. "What are you talking about?"
Hand in hand, Tina leads the girl along as they follow the others back to the Green Room.
"You know how you were waiting for the right time?" she asks, looking sidelong at her companion. "Now would be that time."
"I still have no idea what you're talking about."
Santana's step falters, eyes automatically rising to seek out the blonde. She's up near the front of the group with Rachel, swinging their joined hands and skipping down the hallway.
"What? What about her?"
Tina smiles knowingly. She's been keeping a secret from Santana. It's been hard; she's grown used to keeping the secrets for Santana, not from her. But this one was necessary.
But it isn't just Tina in on the secret this time. Mike knows too. They were working on this together, trying to figure out the best way for this to happen.
And this was the best way for it to happen.
True to her word, Santana's been working. She politely breaks up with Sam. She has a long talk with Quinn, wherein the next day they are talking and laughing and sitting together in Glee Club, something that hasn't happened in a long while.
She's also on better terms with Brittany. She still looks longingly at her, still frowns at Artie. But she and Brittany are better. They smile and giggle and walk in synch again. None of it forced or fake. She goes to Brittany's for dinner and sings under her breath to the blonde when she thinks no one is paying attention.
She eats lunch with Mike and Tina now. She and Tina talk on the phone too, but no longer at ridiculous times.
Santana plays nice with Artie. Compliments Rachel when she knows Brittany can hear. She apologizes to Puck and Lauren, in front of the whole Glee Club. That was a big one.
Tina's really proud. Santana's been making an effort, and Tina knows Brittany's been noticing.
It's too bad what happened three days ago, though, because Tina really wanted to see this play out naturally. She wanted to see how far Santana would go.
But Santana deserves a break too.
They're the last ones to enter the Green Room – they have to wait there for a little while before they can leave; something about more photos and Mr. Schue signing something, Tina wasn't really listening – and she halts them just inside the door. "Artie," she whispers, "He and Brittany broke up three days ago."
It's like all the air goes out of the room. Tina can actually hear Santana's heart stop beating.
"What?" Santana asks in a tiny voice, staring straight ahead but not seeing anything.
"Yeah. They had a long talk. He brought up Landslide, I think, and what it meant. They broke up. Mutually. He isn't mad. He knows… he knows there's someone she loves more. Mike said Artie told him he's suspected it for a while now, actually."
Tina has no idea if Santana is even listening to her or if she is simply repeating he and Brittany broke up over and over again in her head.
After a long, long pause, the other girl finally whispers, "Why didn't you tell me?"
"Mike and I were sworn to secrecy."
This breaks the spell she's under. Santana looks at Mike, sitting on one of the Green Room couches. He looks up when he feels her gaze, raises his eyebrows, looks at Brittany, and then back at Santana with a meaningful look.
He transfers unspoken words to her that she must understand, because Santana gasps lightly.
Artie, parked in his chair next to Mike, looks up too and catches Santana's eye. Tina feels the other girl stiffen next to her. Artie gives a stiff smile, and then nods approvingly in Brittany's direction.
Tina watches as Santana slowly turns to look at the blonde where she's talking with Mercedes and Sam.
Brittany knows Santana's looking now. She ignores her for a moment, giggling and swishing her dress as Sam says something. Then a bright smile breaks through on her face and she turns, fully facing Santana from across the room. Her eyes are shining brighter than Tina's ever seen. She cocks her head at Santana, pretending she doesn't know why the Latina's staring at her.
"Britt," Santana whispers under her breath.
It's like the blonde hears, even from across the room. She raises her eyebrows challengingly at Santana, as if to say, yeah, I'm single now, are you going to do something about it?
What Santana does is grow wings and fly. She races across the room and throws her arms around the blonde's neck, nearly toppling them over with the force of her impact. Brittany staggers under the sudden weight and Sam reaches over to settle them. She gives him a grateful smile while Santana seems to try to sink herself right into Brittany's skin.
Tina follows, perching to sit on Mike's lap and watch the interaction.
Santana's arms are wrapped tightly around Brittany's neck, like she's afraid to let go. Her face is burrowing into the blonde's shoulder. Brittany is smiling down at her and has her arms around Santana's back, rubbing gently. They fit so perfectly together.
Santana eventually pulls back, but not away. She stays right in Brittany's space, "You broke up? You're single now?"
Brittany giggles lightly and nods, "Yeah."
"And he…" she breaks off.
Brittany understands what she's trying to say. "It's okay. He gets it."
"It's okay, San," the blonde insists.
A tear rolls down Santana's cheek, a happy tear. "Why didn't you tell me?"
Brittany smiles, a wicked gleam in her eyes, "Well, I was kind of hoping you'd notice yourself and that maybe you might just come right out and kiss me t-"
Brittany means to say, "kiss me there on stage," but she is cut off by Santana's lips on her own, as if her words 'kiss me' are a command.
Santana pulls back almost immediately though, a terrified look on her face. But Tina isn't sure if she's frightened because of what she's done for her own sake, or if she's worried she's stepped over a line she shouldn't have. Her eyes don't roam the room to see if anyone noticed, they stay locked on the blonde.
"Be with me, please, I love you, be with me. Be… be my girlfriend."
If it wouldn't ruin the moment, Tina would clap.
"B," Santana whines loudly when Brittany doesn't respond right away. This causes everyone in the room not already watching to look over at the pair. Tina's smile grows even wider.
Brittany is looking at her intently, taking in everything about the girl in front of her. Finally, she says, "Prove to me you want this."
Santana never hesitates. She kisses Brittany. Long and hard and full on the mouth as if her life depended on it. To Santana, it very well might. But she kisses the girl. She wraps one arm around Brittany's back and the other hand goes into Brittany's hair and she holds the blonde close against her like she never wants to let go.
Puck, standing behind the couch she and Mike are sitting on, wolf-whistles. Mike leans back and elbows Puck hard in the arm, "Dude, not now."
Puck rolls his eyes.
When the girls finally break apart they wear two completely different expressions. Santana looks petrified and is visibly willing Brittany to be the one to speak first. Brittany just grins.
"Santana," Brittany says with mock-seriousness.
But Santana doesn't see it, she's so blinded by her fear that Brittany will say no. "Please," she whispers.
Brittany is still teasing even though Santana doesn't realize it. "I don't know," she muses. "What about what everyo-"
"I love you," she says. Then she spins, addressing the room. "I love her. I'm gay. I love Brittany. I like girls. I love her." She turns back to the blonde and latches onto her hands. "Be my girlfriend."
Brittany laughs and rolls her eyes. "Since you asked so nicely," she says, pulling Santana into another hug and kissing the top of her head tenderly. Santana melts, sagging into her arms. All the tension from the last few minutes, the last few months, drains from her body once she realizes Brittany is hers.
"Really Santana?" Quinn speaks up, leaning against the wall by the door. "'I love her. I'm gay.' Really? That's how you're going to do it? I was expecting something a little more profound."
Santana, turning in Brittany's arms, sputters, "W-what?"
"If you'll remember," Quinn continues, "None of us had a problem with Kurt or his sexuality." She smiles, "I'm glad you told us, albeit kind of bluntly. But we knew. We were all just waiting for you to man up and admit it."
Finn raises his hand, "Uh, I didn't actually know. It's cool though," he adds, shrugging. "It's cool." He pauses for a moment before adding, "Oh, hey, my brother's gay too! You should totally meet him." Cue Finn's dorky smile.
"I didn't know either," Mercedes adds. Lauren nods in agreement.
"Okay," Quinn fixes, "Those of us with eyes who were actually watching you knew. But we're all happy you and Brittany finally worked it out."
"Yeah," Brittany smiles, "I'm happy now too. I get you as my best friend and my girlfriend, all in one."
Santana smiles up at the blonde. Then she pulls away.
She's running and pulling Tina up off Mike's lap and into a hug so fast Tina doesn't even have time to blink. Smiling, her arms come up automatically as she returns the hug, "You're competing with Rachel for most dramatic at this point, you know."
Santana ignores the jibe, "Thank you," she says, pulling back and looking at Tina in earnest. Santana's eyes are moist.
"For everything. For being there. For answering the phone. Every single time. Thank you. For pretending to be the Lifeline. For being my lifeline."
Tina knows no one else in the room really understands why she and Santana are hugging or why Santana's thanking her but it doesn't matter. Her heart is so happy right now she could sing.
But since they already did that – and won! – she settles for smiling, hugging Santana one last time, and then playfully shoving her back into Brittany's waiting arms.
Santana doesn't let go of Brittany's hand for the next few hours. The rest of the wait in the Green Room, when they meet up again with Mr. Schue in the lobby, or during the bus-ride home; her hand is firmly clasping Brittany's the whole time.
Sitting hand in hand with Brittany, Santana's also made sure she's sitting across the aisle from Tina and Mike.
Double dates with Brittany and Santana are going to be fun. Because as fun as double dates with Brittany and Artie were, Tina's never dated Santana. Much less awkward.
Yep. This friendship is one that will last a lifetime.