A/N: Finally (or already?) decided to start a new multi chapter Brittana fic (though I still want to get back to writing If U Seek Rachel, just saying...) and I have to tell you: This story is sad. I can give that much away. So please, if you dislike too sad and angsty stories, it's really for the best if you don't read that one, there are other, happier Brittana stories on my to do-list for the near future.
Of course I'm happy about whoever will read and review, I just think you should be warned!
Santana's hand was shaking as she turned the key in the lock of her front door. She straightened her jacket as she carefully stepped inside, trying not to make any noises.
She tiptoed into the kitchen, her hand searching for the switch of the small lamp. She was thirsty and really needed a drink before going to bed. When she finally found what she was looking for, the light switched on and Santana caught her breath, holding back a scream.
"Jesus, Brittany, you scared the shit out of me..."
"Who is she?" her girlfriend asked in a numb voice, blue eyes staring at her.
Santana looked at the blonde woman in front of her, the woman who knew her better than anyone else in this world. She felt herself tear up at the sight, felt her heart pound faster at the image of Brittany with those puffy red eyes, looking tired as fuck, her elbow resting on the kitchen table, exhausted, as she waited for some sort of answer.
The Latina knew that her next sentence would most likely seal the fate of their relationship. She knew it was either the truth or lying. Either hurting Brittany or ... or hurting her even more.
"Seriously, San. Tell me her name. I wanna know."
Brittany seemed so powerless. As if she was giving up a fight.
Santana swallowed hard, then took a deep breath as she was making a fist in the pocket of her jacket to keep her hand from shaking.
"Lory" she finally brought out. "Loredana actually. She's Italian."
Brittany stared at Santana for a moment longer, taking in her girlfriend's words. Hurt was mirroring in her eyes and somehow Santana thought there was still some hint of genuine surprise. Wasn't this what she had expected to hear? Santana figured actually hearing her speak the words out loud must have been a punch in Brittany's stomach nonetheless.
For a while no one said anything and the silence was suffocating.
"Do you want me to leave?" Santana asked, trying to keep her gaze strict, biting the inside of her cheek to keep herself from crying. Five years. It's been five long years that they had been happy together. Until everything had to fall apart.
Brittany got up from her chair and shook her head, walking around the room to pick up her shoes and her jacket which she put on, even though she was wearing nothing but some old Mickey Mouse sweatshirt and a pair of sleepy pants.
"Where are you going, Brit?" Santana asked slowly, her eyes following the other woman's movements.
"I'll ... go to my mom's place for now I guess..." Brittany whispered, removing her hair tie to get rid of her ponytail. Santana knew she was doing this so her hair would fall into her face, so that Santana wouldn't see the blonde's tears. Santana saw them anyway.
"I'm sorry, Brit. I am" the Latina whispered slowly. "It's..." She sighed. "... you deserve better."
Brittany's head darted up at those last words and she brushed her tears away forcefully. "I deserve better?" She let out an ironic laugh.
"Just tell me why, Santana. I want only one reason, okay? Then I'm out."
Santana didn't know what to tell her. There was no way she could give her a reason. She had made her decision quite a while ago, and now there was no turning back.
She swallowed once again, feeling as if someone was slowly pulling that knot around her neck tighter and tighter.
"It's not you, it's me." Wow. What a cliché excuse.
Brittany frowned, shaking her head. "You can't even give me a real reason, Santana. Don't you think I deserve that much?"
The blonde did deserve that much. In fact she deserved all the good things in the world. She was kind-hearted, funny, beautiful, the most loving person Santana had ever met. That was exactly why she deserved better and why this was all for the best. Better now before it was too late.
"You're right" Santana slowly agreed. "It's just that I realized..." she started, clearing her throat.
"... I realized I moved on, okay? This is not what I want. I don't want to spend the rest of my life with you in this apartment. I don't want to have kids. I need space."
It was hard to keep her voice strict. She felt evil for speaking those words, for seeing the effect they had on the one person who meant the world to her. Her heart was pumping heavily in Santana's throat.
"And that space you find with that Italian chick?" Brittany looked away.
"I'm sorry my pizza sucked..." she added in a whisper, using her already wet sleeve to get rid of the tears that had started flowing again.
Santana knew she couldn't stare at the scene for only one second longer. She leaned herself against the fridge and closed her eyes, letting out a deep breath.
"Maybe it's really for the best if you leave now..."
She kept her eyes closed, trying to focus on her breathing. This would soon be over. She'd let her leave and then she'd move on. She'd somehow make it. She'd somehow manage all of this alone. It was for the best. For Brittany. She needed to remember that.
Santana didn't open her eyes until she heard the doors close. First the kitchen door, then the front door. Then the house was silent.
It was as if the silence finally allowed her to let loose, her body entirely tensed from holding back the masses of emotions that had been building up in these past minutes. Maybe not minutes. Maybe even months.
Tears were streaming down her face, hot and fast, and Santana let herself sink onto the kitchen floor, groaning as she was punching the linoleum next to her.
It was exactly what she had planned. She knew it was the only way to get out of this relationship. It had to be this way. She had thought this through. She needed to stay strong.
Stay strong she told herself as she was fumbling for her bag, digging through her stuff until she finally found the small orange bottle of pills.
She opened it with a disgusted look on her face and stared at the two white tablets in the palm of her hand.
"Fuck this shit..." was all she murmured before swallowing them, her vision blurry from the tears that wouldn't stop running.
"Fuck this shit."
Almost a year had passed since their breakup but not one day had passed that Brittany didn't ask herself what she had done wrong.
Somehow it didn't feel like a year. Somehow it felt as if they had kissed each other only yesterday. Somehow it felt as if they'd been apart for even longer than that.
They had never spoken to each other since that night. Brittany had picked up her stuff that one afternoon when she knew Santana was at work. She had left her key to the apartment on the kitchen table. She had wanted to leave a note but she hadn't known what it should say. She had scribbled down at least five different versions.
Please change your mind.
Whatever I did, I'm sorry.
You're mean, Santana. Mean. Here's your stupid key.
I hope you'll be happy with her.
I would have learned how to make better pizza. You should have told me. Call me, please.
In the end she had ripped the paper again and stuffed it into her jeans pocket. What was there to say on such a small note? What was there to say after such a long relationship?
Maybe she wasn't the smartest person, but Brittany knew her ex-girlfriend well, knew how to analyze her emotions, her actions, her words. But a while before their breakup, Brittany had stopped understanding. Santana had been nothing but confusing.
She had left the house early and came home late. She hadn't told her where she was going, seemed to have lost all of her happiness. She had been cold and distant, had barely wanted to sleep with her anymore. Brittany had known that something was wrong, but whenever she had tried to talk it out, the Latina had closed up. Entirely. She had been helpless.
What had made her do it? Why someone else?
Even after all this time, not knowing the answers to those questions drove her nuts. Even now, having a new girlfriend, Brittany couldn't stop thinking about Santana.
She was happy with this new girl, she was nice, pretty, friendly. A sweetheart, much like herself. But all these images, all these questions, all these unresolved feelings - they didn't leave her head.
She and Amber didn't live together and Brittany didn't think she wanted to take that step anytime soon. Trusting someone new wasn't easy, even though the blonde tended to see only the good in people. But where had that gotten her? She had had her heart broken. Badly. And as much as she tried to deny it, that thing with Santana had taken away some of her happy ditzyness.
Amber had been her client at the hair salon where Brittany had recently found a new job. She hadn't known the other blonde was gay until they had started chatting about miserable dates during one appointment. Brittany had almost dropped her scissors when the girl in front of her started talking about having dated a woman with a fetish for fake moustaches. They had both started laughing uncontrollably and it had been the first time in a long time that Brittany had felt at least a little bit of her usual light-heartedness again. One week later they had met for dinner, which had lead to sex, which had lead to dating. It had been easy. Esepcially since Amber and Santana couldn't have been more different.
Brittany tried to ignore that she missed snuggling with Santana on the couch. Linking pinkies as they were shopping groceries. Being pulled in for a protective hug whenever they watched a silly horror movie.
Amber and she hadn't even had a real fight yet. Sure there had been small disagreements, but at some point the other woman would smile and tell her they should just forget about it and it would be okay. With Santana she had had countless fights. Was it ridiculous to miss fighting? To miss the look Santana would give her when she realized she had done something wrong? The way she would carefully approach her from behind and position a shy kiss on her cheek as an apology? A wordless apology that had always meant more than anything to her in that moment? A small kiss that would make her heart beat faster, that would make her smile brightly and turn around to pull the Latina in for a hug, telling her she was glad they were okay again?
Was it ridiculous to still think about the many times they had danced in the kitchen together as they had waited for their pasta to be ready? How dorky they had hopped around? How the other woman had pushed her against the kitchen counter to kiss her until she felt dizzy and lacked oxygen? How they had managed to burn their pasta every single fucking time because of that?
Amber never overcooked her pasta. She worked at a catering service and knew exactly how to prepare a perfect dinner for them. It was nice. Nothing anyone could complain about.
Brittany wondered if Santana were still dating this Lory chick. At first she had wanted to track down all the Loredanas in the city to see what the other woman was like, to see what Santana might have missed in their relationship, but she had decided against it.
She had said she needed space. She didn't want to have kids.
Why kids? Brittany had never even mentioned kids. Was it because she sometimes commented on cute children on TV? Because she had commented on some cute baby hats with fluffy panda ears at the mall? She would have taken it back, she wouldn't have said anything at all if she had known it would scare her girlfriend away.
Why was she even thinking about all this? It had been a year. It didn't make sense still to feel guilty about something she didn't even know she should feel guilty about.
"You okay?" Amber asked her and Brittany finally woke up from her little trance.
"Sure" she said, trying to smile. "Why wouldn't I be?"
Amber gave her a weird look and pointed at the cone in Brittany's hand and the chocolate ice cream that was running down her fingers.
The blonde handed Brittany a napkin and helped her clean up the mess as she put a bit of the sweet brown ice cream on her girlfriend's nose and grinned at her, teasingly.
"You're such a child sometimes."
Brittany smiled and cleared her throat as she took Amber's hand in hers and they continued their walk through the park. It was one of the last warm summer days and the leaves had started changing their color. It was a pretty afternoon with her pretty girlfriend. Brittany figured she should be happy.
Working at the salon was a lot of fun for Brittany, even though it wasn't exactly the 'hippest' place in town. Many housewives came over to get a new and fresh hairstyle, sometimes elderly women, sometimes children. The blonde had quickly become quite popular, not only because she always had great suggestions for new haircuts and colors, also because whenever she was around, the music would play a little louder. Brittany wasn't shy. Sometimes she'd sing along, sometimes she'd dance around with the blow-dryer – it was a pleasure to be around and watch her.
Just as she was working on Mrs McClark's hair with the curling iron, Brittany heard her colleague talk in the background.
"Miss Lopez" the voice said friendly, "it's been a while. What can we do for you?"
Brittany froze, looking into the mirror in front of her where she could clearly see the reflection of her ex-girlfriend, talking to her co-worker Anna at their small reception.
"Ooouch" Mrs McClark complained as Brittany realized she had kept the hot iron next to her client's ear for too long.
"Oh god, I'm so sorry" she mumbled, suddenly feeling nervous. She had no idea what to do with herself, her hands were shaking. She risked another look into the mirror where her eyes met the Latina's who looked just as shocked as herself.
She could see the inner conflict in her ex-girlfriend's eyes, could feel how she was most likely trying to decide if she should run out of the building.
"Miss Lopez?" Anna asked carefully as Santana slowly sunk back to reality.
"Uh..." she stuttered. "You know what, um, I will come back some other time, I... I'm sorry."
The brunette was turning around on her heel, giving the other woman a last apologetic look as she headed for the exit.
"Excuse me for a minute" Brittany breathed out, dropping the iron and the hairbrush as she ran after Santana. She had given herself no time to think about her actions, it was pure instinct that told her to follow the brunette before it was too late. She didn't even know what she wanted to tell her, she only knew she needed to look at her for a few more seconds, needed to see the reaction on her face – anything.
"Santana!" she yelled after her, following her with fast steps. "Santana, wait, please!"
The small glass door closed behind them and they both stood outside the salon, staring at each other.
Santana broke their gaze first, looking down on the asphalt.
"San, it's... it's been a while..." Brittany started, trying to bring out a smile.
"Yeah" Santana replied, taking a deep breath as she tried to smile even brighter. "How are you doing, Brit?"
This was beyond weird.
Brittany wasn't sure what she was feeling, wasn't sure what she should say, wasn't sure if it was mainly excitement or sadness that was dominating her body. She was surprised to feel no anger. Somehow the anger had vanished in the past year, somehow all she could see was a person she used to love and felt the need to be around her for a little while longer.
"I'm fine. Good. Great actually" Brittany blabbered, laughing excitedly. "I have a job here now. It's nice."
"I can see that" Santana responded, swallowing hard. "Much better than that cheap salon at the station, eh?"
Brittany nodded, trying to resist the urge to touch the other woman's hand.
"You look great" Santana added, her face more serious now, and Brittany knew she meant it.
"Thanks. You look..."
Her gaze traveled up and down the Latina's body and she couldn't help but frown.
"Hot?" Santana asked, trying to get back to her old flirtatious self.
"I was going to say 'thin', but..." Brittany admitted slowly, not able to deny that her ex seemed to have lost quite a few pounds in the past months.
"Rice diet" Santana explained shrugging, hugging her bag in front of her belly.
"How are things with..."
"Lory?" Santana asked in a tone that Brittany couldn't really analyze.
"Yeah, Lory. I hope everything went well?"
"Yes, everything's great. I mean... I don't know, I guess it's still awkward to talk about it, don't you think?" the Latina mumbled, her eyes searching for some other place to focus than Brittany's eyes.
"No, it's fine. I mean, I'm glad to hear you're happy. And I'm happy too now. I found someone new and she's fun to be around and... yeah. I have nothing to complain about."
The smile was still frozen on Santana's lips but her gaze softened.
"I'm really glad to hear that, Brit" she said sincerely after a pause. "You deserve to be happy."
She reached out to cover Brittany's hand with her own and squeezed it tightly. For a second Brittany thought Santana's eyes looked teary but before she had a chance to think about it, the Latina's hand had left hers again, grabbing her bag a little tighter than before.
"I'm actually on my way to Lory right now" Santana stated, not looking at the blonde as she nervously played with her long dark curls.
"But it was nice seeing you again."
Brittany's heart was pounding a little faster in her chest, something like panic washing over her. She didn't want her to leave. She didn't want to say good bye again, not knowing if she'd ever see her again. She felt silly for wanting to ask her to stay, for wanting to ask for her number. She didn't even know what she wanted from the other woman, if she suddenly wanted some sort of friendship, all she knew was that she didn't want her to be gone.
"Can't we hang out sometime?" she blurted out, hating the desperate tone in her voice.
"Just coffee? A hot cocoa?"
Santana looked tortured, biting her lower lip. She sighed.
"I don't know, Brit, I - "
"Only to talk about good old times, San. I know you're in a relationship. I am too. I don't want anything from you, okay? Just ... hear what you've been up to."
Brittany was toying with the zipper of her shirt now.
"I missed you. I mean... I miss being your friend. We've always been best friends, San" she added in a whisper.
Santana looked defeated, shaking her head.
"Okay... I guess. I guess one coffee seems about fine."
Brittany felt relieved, smiling happily at the woman in front of her.
"My cell's still the same" she told her. "If you still have the number."
"I know it by heart" Santana admitted with a shy smile. "I mean, it's an easy numer. Many three's, not so hard."
The blonde simply smiled, brushing her hand along the brunette's arm.
"I'll be waiting for your call" she told her softly before turning around to run back to work. Poor Mrs McClark.
When she looked back into the mirror to continue working on the elderly woman's hair, Brittany noticed her flushed cheeks. She was red. Like a tomato. Her head felt as if it were on fire.
Somehow she felt happy. Somehow she had to fight tears. Even after all this time Santana hadn't changed – she was still so damn confusing.
Just when Brittany received Mrs McClark's tip, Santana finally arrived at the house she'd been heading to. She had tried to remain calm, had tried not to let the encounter with her ex drive her nuts. She had managed not to run into her for such a long time and she had thought she was almost over her. She had thought she could finally be strong without her. Why did she have to be in that stupid salon. She certainly hadn't been there the last time.
It would be stupid to call her. It would be insane. What would they even talk about? There was nothing she could say to her. How could seeing her still hurt as much? After all this time?
Santana's legs were weak as she walked up the few steps to the huge and heavy entrance door, ringing the bell next to the right name tag.
Dr. Loredana Valentini – Oncologist