Sorry for the delay, this part took longer than I expected. It was quite difficult to write in parts. There are lots of reveals ahead and I wanted to make sure I did this right, hence the extra time. Do not worry; I will not abandon this fic! If anyone has any questions just PM me for an update. I am always happy to answer any questions and give updates to where I am at with the upcoming parts.

Thanks to everyone for your reviews last time. I read each and every one and enjoyed them immensely. Thanks again for adding me and the story to your alerts and favourites.

Thanks to Kirsteen, who always make these chapters so much better than if I just released them without her.

Just a small note. I have no medical training, so everything comes from a little research and what I have gathered from movies and television over the years. So please excuse any mistakes.

Anyway on with the part, and as always enjoy!

Chapter 23

This was not what Brittany had envisioned happening today. Oh she had thought about holding Santana's hand, but not while the other woman lay unconscious on the floor. Sucking her lips into her mouth, Brittany desperately tried to stave off the fresh wave of tears that threatened to slip from her eyes with each passing moment.

She felt like her heart was going to explode as she stared at the woman who was before her. Santana's breathing was shallow, and so was Brittany's. Her mind stubbornly told her that everything was going to be ok, even though parts of her had some serious doubts. She closed her eyes tightly as she desperately prayed for Santana to open her eyes so she could gaze into their depths and forget all about everything that had happened in the past hour. She desperately wanted to turn back time to the moment just after they kissed. She wanted to tell Santana to go wait in her car, grab Olivia and run far away from here. But as her eyes moved back and forth behind her eyelids, nothing of the sort happened. In fact, something much less pleasant took place, the events that drew her to this moment started to play out before her. Brittany willed it to stop, but it wouldn't. Every moment played out before her like some macabre old black and white movie and Brittany could do nothing but watch on, helpless, like the first time.

It had all happened so suddenly, there had been no warning that anything was amiss. Well nothing she had picked up on, and Brittany chastised herself for being so stupid in not noticing Santana was ill. She was a mother, it was supposed to be second nature to her to pick up on things like that. She had noticed that Santana was a little pale, but she just thought it had been exhaustion; she had been tired just watching her entertain all of Olivia's friends' questions.

Still, she had seen nothing amiss, and as a result done nothing to help. Brittany bit her lip as she thought about how this was probably all her fault. Arguing with her mom in front of Santana was foolish and downright childish. She had lost control of the situation and she had lost part of herself. Closing her eyes briefly, Brittany couldn't help but feel that what happened could have contributed to what was wrong with Santana. She knew it was counterproductive, but she couldn't help but wonder if Santana would have been ok had she just ignored her mom or just walked away. If she hadn't fought back, then maybe she would be holding Santana in her arms as they exchanged sweet kisses instead of sitting on the hard ground holding Santana's cold and clammy hand.

Sighing to herself, Brittany opened her eyes and looked at the woman in question. She knew if she mentioned her thoughts to anyone they would tell her she was reading too much into it, that she had done nothing wrong, but Brittany couldn't help how her mind was processing her thoughts. One minute she had found herself standing arguing with her mom about her suitors, wishing she could be somewhere else - anywhere else - at that moment. Then Santana had appeared like a guardian angel, offering her help, offering her a shoulder to lean on and an opportunity to escape. Then everything had turned on its head; her mom had turned on Santana and minutes later the smaller brunette had been falling into her, begging her for help.

Even though she desperately didn't want to, Brittany could easily recall the overwhelming and paralysing fear that had seized her chest at that very moment. She could recall with perfect clarity how for several horrifying seconds everything around her had seem to fade as her world had zeroed in on Santana. She clearly recalled screaming out the Santana's name as she begged for her to stay with her, to stay awake and keep looking into her eyes and talking to her. Her desperate plea still rang in her ears, but so did Santana's desperation and fear as she had slumped in her arms. She could still hear the way Santana's breathing had been so wild. Brittany would swear that she could still feel the beat of the other woman's heart as it had thundered erratically within her chest. Brittany had known instantly that something had been wrong with Santana, something very serious, but what caused her fear to increase was the fact that she knew Santana knew that too. Whatever it was, it scared the hell out of the other woman, to the point that she would beg for paramedics.

Shaking her head, Brittany tried to calm her own heartbeat. It was taking everything in her not to breakdown completely. Santana needed her to be strong, she needed her to stay with her. Even so, the situation got the better of her and Brittany couldn't help the tears that finally escaped from her eyes.

A hand landed on her shoulder and Brittany looked up to meet a pair of blue eyes so similar to her own. Her mom was looking at her with concern and despite what had just been said between them, and the swirling pit of anger in her stomach, Brittany desperately sought comfort within their depths. Her mom was always there for her, through everything and right now Brittany needed her.

"Mom," Brittany cried as she felt the hand squeeze her shoulder harder and it tried to imbue her with strength.

Brittany felt her mom shift her position and hands cupped her face and pulled it to the side. Looking into her mom's eyes Brittany could see her own fear reflected within their depths along with a good dose of remorse. It helped lessen her anger slightly, and she knew she should be happy that her mom at least felt bad, but at that very moment Brittany just didn't care about anything other than the woman in her arms.

"Honey, everything is going to be ok," Patricia told Brittany confidently as she brushed a piece of hair from in front of her eyes.

"Don't say that! You don't know what's going to happen!" Brittany spat back, shaking her head along with her words. There was no way her mom could know that. Brittany desperately wanted to believe her, but she knew she couldn't allow herself to cling to false hope. It would just make things worse in the long run if something bad happened.

"You're right, I don't, but it's better to think positive than to think the worst." Brittany looked at her mom for a moment after she had spoken and then tried to pull her face from her hands. Her mom wouldn't let her move, however, and Brittany's eyes sparked with anger she opened her mouth to tell her mom to let go, but the older woman just glared at her

"You told me you like this girl," Patricia said, causing Brittany to bite her tongue to stave off the harsh words that were threatening to spill forward. She always tried to hold back from talking back to her mom out of respect for her, but today she had pushed her too far. However she wouldn't do it again, because her mom had crossed a line, and Brittany refused to allow her anger to overwhelm her again. Santana had heard enough from the pair of them, she didn't need to hear more. Brittany didn't care if she could understand her or not, that wasn't the point.

"I do," Brittany ground out, angry that her mom would dispute something she had told her when Santana was in such a state.

"Well then, don't give up on her. You need to stay strong Brittany," Patricia said, her words once again causing Brittany's anger to subside for the time being.

"She just…" Brittany mumbled looking back down at Santana as her mother's grip on her face loosened into nothing more than a gentle caress.

Santana looked deathly pale, her full lips were dull, their usual bright and deep red colour absent. They were parted slightly and Brittany was thankful that her breathing had calmed for now, but she knew that the lull was probably due to Santana being unconscious. Her beautiful eyes were closed, but the lids were dark and shiny looking - almost bruised. Santana's forehead was spotted with perspiration, making it slick and causing some of the hair that was splayed over her forehead to stick to the damp and pale skin. Brittany wanted to move it, but she was afraid to do anything that would make things worse, even though she knew it was an irrational thought; moving a few strands of hair would do nothing. Instead, she just tightened her grip on Santana's hand and desperately prayed that the other woman would open her eyes and smile at her, letting her know that she was fine, that everything would be good.

"Brittany, look at me," Patricia said firmly and Brittany felt her mom's hand cup her chin and turn her head towards her once more "We need to get her into the recovery position."

"Recovery position?" Brittany echoed, her brow creasing with each word. "That's not necessary is it?" She knew what that meant, but she didn't really want to accept the reality.

"I hope not, Brittany, but it's better to be safe than sorry. Allison is calling the paramedics." Brittany briefly looked around for her sister when her mom spoke her name. She found her a foot or so away talking rapidly, but calmly into her phone. Allison had taken Santana's pulse and had made sure she was breathing before she had grabbed her phone to call for help. Her head was moving up and down as her eyes were firmly fixed on Santana as she explained things that Brittany at the moment couldn't comprehend.

"But she was fine…" Brittany mumbled as she stared helplessly at Santana's limp body once more. It was frozen, stuck in the same position that it had fallen.

She was still holding onto the hope that Santana had just fainted, that she would wake up any second and would be ok. She would laugh at her for being so silly and kiss her gently for being so protective. The moment the thought entered her head Brittany knew it was stupid; she remembered how Santana had begged for her to call for an ambulance. It took everything she had not to sob uncontrollably when the memory of Santana's pain filled face flashed before her eyes. Brittany knew that her mom was right, that they had to get Santana into the recovery position, she had seen enough ER and Grey's Anatomy to know that it was needed so that nothing happened to her. However, Brittany didn't know how to do that and her heart started to thud in her chest again as she looked up at her mom pleadingly.

"Brittany let go of her hand…" Patricia said softly causing Brittany to shake her head, blonde hair whipping around her shoulders with the movement.

"I don't want to, she needs me," Brittany said as she cut her mom off. She couldn't let go, Santana needed to feel her, to know she was with her, know that she wasn't alone in all this.

"Brittany…" Patricia started again only to stop when a shadow fell over them.

Brittany looked up and her eyes shone with unshed tears as her sister smiled down at her sadly.

"They are on their way," Alison said breathlessly as she dropped to her knees in front of Brittany and their mom.

"How long?" Patricia asked as she ran a hand nervously through her hair, her other hand rubbing up and down Brittany's back, offering what little comfort she could.

"Fifteen minutes, twenty max," Allison said with an absent shrug. Brittany watched on silently as Allison lifted the phone to her ear and started talking again as she took Santana's pulse once more and started to manoeuvre various parts of Santana's body.

"Do you want me to go wait on the street for them?" Artie suddenly asked, reminding Brittany that he was still there. Brittany didn't look at him, she couldn't look at him. She didn't care about him, he wasn't important at the moment, but she was grateful for his offer of help.

"Would you, Artie? That would be great," Patricia said as she looked towards the man who was watching on awkwardly.

"Yeah, sure, I'll show them the way when they get here," Artie said as he started to manoeuvre his wheelchair towards the front of the house.

"Thanks," Patricia said faintly, and out of the corner of her eye Brittany saw her offer the man a small smile before she turned her attention back to her. "Brittany, move back for me and let Allison get Santana settled until the paramedics get here. She has to make sure Santana is breathing…"

"She is breathing! I can see her chest moving," Brittany cried, rebelling at the prospect that Santana wasn't drawing air into her lungs. "Allison told me she was breathing before she called the paramedics."

"Ok," Patricia said holding her hands up in a placating manner. "She is breathing, but you don't want her to choke or something. So please let Allison do this, Brittany, she knows what she's doing."

"Britt, Mom's right. Remember all those first aid courses I had to go on when I first opened the gallery? Well I passed them all with flying colours, I can do this."

Brittany nodded slowly and watched on as Allison dropped her gaze as soon as she had her permission. She wasn't sure if she was talking to her or to the person on the phone helping her out, but Brittany was grateful when her sister started to explain everything she was doing.

She watched on silently as Allison checked on Santana's breathing and pulled at the neck of her sweater a little so her breathing wasn't restricted. She checked Santana's pulse again and told her that they had to do it every five minutes until the paramedics arrived.

Brittany watched on like a hawk as Allison pushed Santana onto her side, so that she wouldn't choke on her own bodily fluids or anything. Allie had pushed up Santana's right leg and then lifted it so it rested over her left. She did the same with her arms and then tilted her head slightly. Brittany found herself holding back her sobs as she explained that the mouth was positioned downward and that the chin is well up to keep the throat open, so that anything can drain from it if necessary. Brittany hated to think about what things her sister was talking about, so instead she shuffled forward the moment her sister nodded that it was ok for her to do so and once again grasped Santana's hand.

Brittany wasn't sure how long she sat holding Santana's hand as she prayed to anyone who would listen to please help the other woman, help her come back to her. It felt like an eternity, but she knew in all likelihood it was only a few minutes or so. It seemed her prayers were answered when she was shocked back into the present by a heavy bag landing just to the left of her position. Someone started to pull her away from Santana while another person untangled her fingers from those of Santana's. Brittany wanted to protest but she held back as she realised it was her mom and sister who had pulled her up from the floor. Their arms remained locked with her own, and anything Brittany might had said was halted when a flash of a badge, white and blue embroidered onto a navy blue t-shirt flooded her vision.

"So, who do we have here?" the EMT asked as his partner gently pulled up Santana's bruised eyelids and shone the light he kept in his pocket in her eyes.

"I'm Allison and her name is Santana," Allison answered when Brittany could do nothing but stare at what was happening before her.

"Ok, thanks, Allison," The taller of the two paramedics said before the man nodded to his partner to start removing equipment from the bag he had brought with him. "Santana, can you hear me? My name is Joel and this is my partner, Stan. We are just going to take a look at you so we can determine what's wrong."

Santana didn't respond and Brittany bit her lip to force back the sob that threatened to escape her throat. She so badly wanted Santana to answer the man. Tell him to stop shining that dumb light in her eyes and to take his hands off her, that she was ok, or say that she would be ok.

"Can you tell me what happened and how long Santana has been like this for?" Joel asked as he looked up from his inspection of Santana.

"She just collapsed, I'm not sure why. She did mention calling an ambulance before she lost consciousness, that was about fifteen minutes ago," Allison said and Brittany found herself nodding along with her sister's words, unable to express it verbally.

"Do you happen to know if she had any history of incidents like this?" the paramedic inquired as he looked from her to Allison and back again.

"Brittany?" Allison said as she looked towards her sister for answers.

"No…I… don't know…" Brittany stumbled over her words because she realised that beyond a few obvious things, she really didn't know anything about Santana. Swallowing hard past the lump in her throat, Brittany looked at Santana and suddenly realised that if this was bad then she would never know a lot of things about Santana.

A hand squeezed her arm and Brittany looked towards her sister who smiled at her and then answered. "We haven't known her that long, so…"

"That's ok, we are just gonna check over a few things… then we will get her prepped for travel and get her to the hospital." The taller of the two paramedics who had been talking to them smiled briefly and then focused his attention on the woman lying on the ground.

Brittany was vaguely aware of them talking amongst themselves; their words both strange and familiar. She was also conscious of her sister and mother squeezing her arms every time they uttered some question towards them and then talked to the unconscious Santana as they tried to rouse her.

As the two men worked on Santana, finding out what was wrong with her, Brittany silently watched on. It didn't take them long to come to some sort of diagnosis and eventually one of the paramedics stood after a short time, shifting his position so that he stood hovering over Santana's head. After a few moments of checking vitals and other stuff, the paramedics started fiddling with the collapsible stretcher they had brought with them. Within seconds they had lifted Santana on to the gurney. It was a relatively short and uncomplicated manoeuvre and it wasn't long before the two men had Santana comfortable strapped to the stretcher with an oxygen mask over her face and were pointing towards the front of the house as they raised it to its full height. The picked up their stuff and the gurney started to move.

Brittany couldn't help but think about how small and frail Santana looked strapped down to the yellow and black collapsible stretcher as she followed closely behind the two men. She felt herself quicken her pace as they manoeuvred Santana around the garden path.

"Is she going to be ok?" Brittany asked as she drew level with the paramedics, finally finding her voice as they got to the ambulance and started to open the back doors.

The two EMT's separated as one climbed into the back of the ambulance and Joel, who had taken charge and who had been talking to Allison, turned towards her briefly before he pushed the gurney towards the back of the vehicle. The front of the gurney collapsed as the stretcher slid into the back of the vehicle and the guy inside instantly set about securing it in position.

Joel turned towards her fully after a few seconds and Brittany looked him dead in the eye. "We need to get her to hospital to check her over."

"You didn't answer my question," Brittany said with a small frown. She wanted to know what was wrong with Santana. She doubted they would tell her as she wasn't family or next of kin, but it didn't hurt to ask.

The EMT hesitated for a second as he closed one of the doors of the ambulance and secured it in position. "Your friend has had a pretty tough time and she needs to be checked over by a doctor to make sure we haven't missed anything."

"Is it ok if she rides along with you?" Allison suddenly asked as Brittany opened her mouth to point out that he had avoided her question again.

The EMT smiled briefly and nodded. "You can sit up front with Stan," he said as he climbed into the back of the ambulance and closed the door, blocking off their view as he joined his partner in hooking up Santana to all kinds of machines.

"Thanks," Brittany breathed out and then stopped as she looked around, unsure what she should take with her. Before she could panic, two hands grasped her upper arms and Brittany found her sister's face filling her view. "Just go, I'll follow right along and find you when I get there."

"I can't just leave Olivia – god, she must be terrified. I have to make sure she's ok," Brittany said, alarmed, as she looked back towards the house. It looked quiet and she wondered if Olivia had seen anything. Especially Santana collapsing. Her daughter adored the other woman and she knew that seeing Santana like that would hurt her little girl just as much as it had hurt her. She hoped against hope that Olivia didn't know what was going on, but she knew how unlikely that was. Olivia was intelligent and observant; she always wanted to know about everything going on around her. It was a given she would have heard the sirens, and possibly seen the ambulance, depending where she was in the house. She would been wondered what was happening.

"Brian has Olivia," Allison told Brittany as she briefly looked back towards their mom, who had followed them from the back yard. "I don't think she saw anything and Mom will deal with it if she did."

"Olivia will be fine, Brittany." Patricia chimed in to reassure Brittany that Olivia would be well taken care off in her absence.

"I…" Brittany hesitated, torn between leaving her daughter and going with Santana. She knew her daughter would need her, she knew she would be upset, possibly inconsolable, but at the moment she knew Santana needed her more.

"Britt, just go, you don't have time for this. I'll take care of everything." Brittany nodded at her sister's words and shot her a look of gratitude as she made her way towards the ambulance. Stan, the guy she was riding up front with, had just climbed into the front from the back so Brittany knew it was time to go.

"What's the name of Santana's house keeper?" Allison suddenly sounded, halting Brittany as she started to open the door to the passenger side of the vehicle.

"Emma; why?" Brittany answered absently slightly puzzled and annoyed that her sister was halting her progress as she turned back towards her sister.

"I need to find out some personal details… look don't worry about that, just go with her and I'll be right behind you. You stay with her, ok. Take my phone, I'll grab Brian's and call you when I am on my way."

"Allison… thank you," Brittany said sincerely as she accepted Allison's cell with a nod, then she scrambled into the passenger side of the vehicle. She looked briefly out of the window towards her sister and her mom who were watching them pull away from the kerb, before she shifted her position and looked towards the back of the ambulance that held the still body of Santana.

Sighing deeply, Brittany ran her eyes over Santana's sleeping form once again. The last two hours had been some of the most terrifying of Brittany's life. They were right up there with when her waters had broken while pregnant with Olivia. Brittany remembered that fear acutely and it had been paralysing.

The doctors wouldn't tell her much about what was happening with Santana, all she had managed to get from a few nurses was that the other woman was stable and that they would get a doctor to come talk to her when they were free. Even when Allison had arrived, out of breath, holding three phones and brandishing threats of lawsuits if someone didn't get them some actual information, it hadn't worked.

Still, Brittany was glad for her sister's company, even if she was a little brash at times. The younger woman had helped to distract her, even when her mind had been filled with thoughts of Santana, Her sister's sarcastic and humorous comments about some of the other people around them and the god awful coffee they had gotten from one of the vending machines had helped lift her spirits a little while they had waited.

Brittany could easily recall the events of a few hours ago. She could still clearly feel how her mood, had taken a turn for the worse when the doors to the emergency room outside of which they stood opened. A sight she had not been prepared for appeared and had caused Brittany to burst into tears. She had known the minute she looked up that the person on the gurney was Santana. She had risen instantly and took in all she could. She looked no better than when she had left the ambulance. Her skin had still been deathly pale and her hair mussed and still slicked with sweat. The only obvious difference was that an IV had been attached to her arm to offer her much needed fluids, but that made Brittany worry all the more.

An orderly had been wheeling her when a young woman in scrubs that had been following behind looking at a clipboard looked at her briefly before telling the man to head for another part of the hospital where someone was waiting for them. The moment she had started sobbing and calling out of Santana's name the young doctor had looked at her again startled by her actions.

Allison had taken over at that point, introducing them to the doctor and pointing out that they had been waiting for a while for news of Santana. The doctor had looked hesitant about giving them any information upon learning they were just friends, but Brittany was grateful when the other woman took time to ease her fears and tell them that Santana was currently stable with a confident and reassuring smile.

She had refused to give them details and had told them that Santana's care had been transferred to a colleague of hers. All they had managed to get out of the woman had been that Santana had suffered a very traumatic experience and that they were just waiting for her to wake up now so that they could assess her condition properly.

At those words, Brittany had felt her heart flood with a mixture of relief and trepidation. She had been expecting the doctor to tell her that Santana had suffered a heart attack or something equally as bad, but she hadn't, The words she had used have been vague, while still frightening, they were far better than any diagnosis she had been making herself. She had started to ask about some detail but the doctor's beeper had gone off and she had once again gone on about how she couldn't give her any details in regard to Santana's condition, but she was sure she would be fine. Brittany had thanked the doctor as the woman had headed back into the emergency room but not before she had been kind enough to tell them where Santana was going and how they could find her.

It hadn't taken them too long to find the section of the hospital Santana had been transferred to. Getting access to the woman before her had been were the questions had arisen. Brittany had found herself at a loss when the nurses on duty had been hesitant in allowing them access to the other woman. It was pretty obvious that they weren't related.

Brittany had Allison to thank for her current position, seated at Santana's side. Her sister had managed to charm her way around the head nurse and his rules. At any other time, Brittany knew she would have admonished her sister for her behaviour, but the moment she had set eyes upon Santana she had been glad that she had done it.

The hospital staff had gotten Santana comfortable upon the bed in the room by the time they had arrived. There had only been a few nurses in the room, fiddling with wires and scribbling information upon the clip board at the bottom of the bed. Brittany hadn't paid them much attention, her sole focus had been fixed upon Santana. The other woman had looked so small and fragile in the large bed. The machines she was connected to bleeped and changed every few seconds and Brittany had felt tears threatening to fall once again. The instant she drew close it had taken everything in her not to collapse upon the other woman in relief and thank her and any god she could for the fact that she was still here with her.

From the moment Santana had slumped into her arms, Brittany had been praying that she would be ok. Yet, despite that, she had tried to prepare herself for the worst. She knew that Santana was young, but she also knew that bad things happened to young people too, and it was quite possible Santana was one of those. However, at that moment she was glad that she had been proven wrong by some force.

Swallowing hard, Brittany reached out and moved a stray piece of hair from Santana's forehead. As she pulled her hand back from Santana's forehead, Brittany sucked her lips into her mouth. For the millionth time since Allison had shoved a chair towards her she found herself praying that Santana would open her eyes. The woman had yet to stir. Her breathing was strong and deep and that gave Brittany hope that she would be ok, but she longed for the moment when the other woman would awaken and tell her that fact herself.

The first thought that entered Santana's head when her mind floated out of the sea of black was 'what the fuck was going on?' She felt like shit and she couldn't move. She briefly wondered if she was dead but then her brain registered a wave of pain and she quickly scrapped that thought. Alive and in agony and fucked, but clearly alive. It was enough to make her wish she was dead. At that very moment, kicking back in hell with a bunch of creepy dudes with red skin and forked tongues roasting her Great-Aunt Daria on a spit sounded like it was a better prospect than being immobile and in agony.

She didn't know where she was and she had no idea how she got there. She could smell disinfectant and plastic. There was something else lingering in the background, a scent she recognised, a smell she knew and that she wanted to encase her, but she couldn't distinguish it from the other overpowering odours. She knew it was important but Santana couldn't focus on it. All she could focus on was the pain and darkness that was so inviting to her. The darkness was sucking her down again. Calling her back into its depths. Not having the strength to resist, Santana allowed her mind to sink back into the abyss of inky black.

Santana wasn't sure how long she was out for, but the second time her mind floated into consciousness she found herself much more aware of her surroundings. Despite the hazy fog that her brain was encased in, she could instantly recognise that she was lying down, somewhere soft and dry, and obviously a bed. The smells she had recognised before assaulted her senses once more but Santana found herself pushing them to one side for the time being to be analysed later.

Other things were a hell of a lot more pressing, like the pain in her chest and the one at the back of her skull. Forcing her mind to focus, Santana made herself take stock of everything that she could feel. The main sensation was pain, but through the pain there were other factors settling in her mind. The pain in her chest was making it hard to breathe for starters; Santana felt like Dumbo had taken a seat on her ribcage and had decided to stayed there, causing her lungs to burn every time she took in oxygen.

But it wasn't just her chest that was causing her concern; no, everywhere on her body seemed to be screaming out for attention. Her legs, arms, feet and hands, even her fingers and toes ached and tingled while they experienced little flashes of cramp-like pains. The pain in her skull came in a close second to the agony in her chest. Her brain felt like it was trying to escape. It throbbed relentlessly and the pain seemed to radiate from the base of her skull and spread out rapidly. It was like it was a living, breathing entity. It almost felt like a giant hand was slowly squeezing against each and every one of the billions of cells that made up the organ.

It wasn't helping her that no matter what she did, Santana found it impossible to open her eyes. It was like her lids had been weighted down. She couldn't even force the muscles in her cheeks to twitch, or her mouth to open. It was like she had no control over her body, destined to feel its fury and bathe in its displeasure. It was slightly disconcerting and if she hadn't been so exhausted Santana knew she would slip into full blown panic mode.

Trying to focus on anything other than her pain, how fucked up she felt and trying not to freak out, Santana became aware of a sensation that was engulfing one of her hands. Something was causing it to be warmer than the other one. Something soft was encasing it. Santana felt a small squeeze and she instantly registered that someone was holding her hand. Someone was with her, sitting beside her and caressing her hand. Even through the distracting pain she could feel the pad of a thumb as it ran gently over the surface of her skin, drawing circles in-between squeezes and gentle strokes, and it was nice. She rarely had actual physical interaction with anyone, and even though her mind was cycling through so many emotions Santana couldn't help but feel comforted by the contact.

Outside of the hand holding, Santana realised that she could hear voices. They were hushed, but still clearly definable as voices. She couldn't make them out and that concerned her. She wanted to know what they were saying, she wanted to open her eyes and gaze at whoever was holding her hand, she wanted to talk to them, tell them that she was in pain, that her chest hurt and her head felt like lead. More important, she wanted to tell them that them being with her was comforting, that she didn't feel so alone, but she couldn't. Something was stopping her and she just felt so tired.

Giving up, Santana allowed the gentle swipes of the thumb over her hand to sweep her away into the fog that was filling her mind once again and allowed the oblivion it brought to suck her back in and take away the pain once more.

Looking away from Santana and their entwined hands for a moment, Brittany gazed at her sister and took in how tired she looked. Brittany knew she probably looked the same but she didn't care about herself at that moment, her focus was on Allison. There were dark smudges under her usually clear eyes, her clothes were rumpled and her once perfect ponytail was looking a little lacklustre. She was clearly trying to stifle a yawn. They had both been up late the day before, wrapping gifts and blowing up balloons and stuff. Then they had been up at the crack of dawn to prep food for Olivia's party. The added stress of the whole Santana situation had clearly taken its toll, and being the big sister, Brittany felt responsible for keeping her here with her.

"You can head home if you want to, Allie," Brittany offered as she reached out her free hand and gave her sister's a gentle squeeze.

Allison looked towards her with a small scrutinizing frown and then shook her head.

"You look ruined, Allie," Brittany added in response to her sister's resistance.

"I'm fine," Allie quickly said before her lips quirked upwards slightly. "Trust me, compared to you I look great."

"Gee, thanks," Brittany huffed, rolling her eyes at her sister's little smirk.

Allison chuckled a little before her face turned serious again and she squeezed Brittany's hand back. "Look, I'm not leaving you here on your own, Britt, this place sucks."

"It's not that bad," Brittany offered with a shrug; she had been in worse medical facilities. This was state of the art, having gone through a regeneration period over the past five years. "They have just done it up."

"I just meant hospitals in general, they give me the creeps." Allison shuddered slightly and Brittany couldn't help the small smile that broke out upon her lips.

"Yeah, they are strange places." Brittany sighed, she knew her sister didn't really like hospitals, and it was another reason why she was offering her the opportunity to escape. She would be ok on her own until Santana woke up. Brittany was hopeful that would be soon, but she was prepared to wait however long it took.

"This room's pretty amazing though. Santana must have some kick ass health insurance," Allison said as she gazed around the room they were seated in.

"Emma must have sorted this out," Brittany noted as she gently stroked her finger tips over Santana's hand once more as she gazed at the woman. Some of her colour had come back and she was looking a little better than she had for the whole time they had been here.

Thinking about what her sister had just said, Brittany had to agree. Even though she had barely looked at the room, in all honestly, she knew it had to be expensive. It had all kinds of high tech gadgets and Allie had told her all about how it was a private room in one of the more secluded sections of the hospital. The room even had its own private shower room and a wall of mirror-tinted windows that over looked the park just across from the hospital. There was a large flat screen TV on one wall, bigger than the one Brittany had at home, and there was even a large sofa by the windows.

"I wonder how much this cost," Allison pondered out loud.

"Does it matter?" Brittany asked, her tone slightly biting. When Allison started, Brittany instantly felt guilty for having snapped. The whole argument with her mom had made her very touchy towards anything to do with Santana's wealth. It was clearly an expensive room, but then again, Brittany knew that for Santana money was no object. The woman was clearly rich and this just proved it, but she didn't care and she didn't see why her sister did.

"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that," Allison said, backtracking, while giving her sister a small remorse-filled smile. "Especially after all that crap mom was saying."

"She makes me so mad," Brittany ground out behind gritted teeth, her eyes not straying form Santana.

"I know," Allison said with a small sigh

"Why did she have to say all that stuff?" Brittany asked as she tore her gaze away from Santana and looked towards her sister. "What do I have to do to get her to stop treating me like a child? I can make my own god damn decisions; who I want to date and love with is none of her business."

"I know," Allison agreed softly, her eyebrows lifting the instant Brittany mentioned the word love.

"Why can't she just stay out of my life?" Brittany said, her tone beseeching. Her sister sighed once more and she locked eyes with Allison as she contemplated what she could say in response to her question.

"I'm not trying to defend her but I get where she is coming from," Brittany heard Allison start and watched as she held up her hand when she caught sight of her rolling her eyes as she opened her mouth to dispute that fact. She forced herself to stay quiet when her sister glared at her before she started speaking again. "She is overbearing and controlling. She's opinionated and she always thinks her way is best. She will always see us as her little girls, Brittany, that's not going to change. But she is that way for a reason; everything she does is only because she cares. We all care, Brittany, mom just has a different way of showing it than the rest of us do."

Brittany felt her shoulders slump slightly when she heard her sister's words. Their mom was a force of nature, she had provided everything for them after their dad had left them all high and dry. She had worked every hour god sent and had saved every penny she could so they could both follow their dreams. It had caused her to become a hard woman. She was focused and only wanted the best for them. Sometimes what she thought what the best wasn't what they wanted and it caused them to butt heads. That was the case that the moment; she had ignored her when she told her she wasn't interested in Artie, which wasn't something that was new if she was honest. But, by ignoring her wishes and disregarding her choices she had ignited something akin to outrage within Brittany. Causing a scene on Olivia's special day was just the cherry on the top of the cake and even though she knew it was partially her fault it was not something Brittany could forgive easily.

"I know, but she didn't have to do it in front of Olivia. She crossed a line today, Allie."

"Yeah, she did," Allison agreed with a nod of her head. "I think she realised that, Britt, you need to talk to her about this stuff, Brittany, and you need to do it when you're not so angry. Having another argument with her might end in you both to say things you don't mean and it will just make everything worse."

Brittany knew her sister was right. She shook her head to try and dislodge some of her anger and looked at her sister for a moment. "Why does she have to be such a…"

"Bitch?" Allie offered with a quirk of her lips.

"Allie!" Brittany said with a small laugh. It was the word she had omitted but she didn't expect her sister to fill in the blank.

"What? She totally is at times, Britt," Allison said with a pointed look.

"You still shouldn't say it." Laughing despite her frustration, Brittany had to agree with her sister their mom was a bitch at times. But she was still their mom, and despite her flaws and her overbearing nature she loved her and everything she did for her. Shaking her head Brittany stared at Allison for a while and then smiled at her. "I shouldn't have snapped at you before."

"It's ok, don't worry about it," Allison said, waving off Brittany's words.

"I just wish she would just wake up," Brittany mumbled as she focused her attention on Santana again.

"She will, Britt," Allison said firmly and Brittany took comfort in her sister's conviction along with the arm that wrapped around her shoulders and pulled her into a hug.

"You sound so sure," Brittany mumbled as she tilted her head and laid it against her sister's.

Brittany felt Allison sigh at her words and she knew she sister was struggling to come up with some words that would reassure her that everything would be fine.

"That little doctor told you that she needed rest, her body is just recuperating from what it experienced," Allie said confidently and Brittany nodded in acknowledgement of the words the doctor had delivered to them earlier. They were non-descript and vague, but they weren't all doom and gloom.

"You're right," Brittany said with a nod.

"Aren't I always?" Allie laughed and Brittany shoved her sister slightly and earned a chuckle.

Taking a deep breath, Brittany trying to take heart in her sister's words. However, until Santana opened her eyes and told her with her own words that she was going to be ok, then she would always be waiting and worrying.

The third time that Santana fought herself to consciousness was the first time she managed to fight her way through the hazy fog that had been pinning her down. It was the first time the pain had been manageable and she was able to ignore it long enough to force her eyes open for a second or two. As it turned out, forcing her eyes open was a mistake. Santana released an almost silent groan as the light surrounding her, even though dull, stabbed at her sensitive eyes. She barely got the eyelids to flicker fully open before she found herself slamming them shut.

With her eyes closed once more, Santana took a deep breath to recuperate for another try at opening them. As she gathered her strength, Santana took stock of her condition once more. She was still in pain, but it didn't feel as bad as the last time she had managed to get hold of herself. She briefly wondered where the hell she was as she also tried to recall how she got wherever she was in the first place. A small crease appeared upon her brow as she racked her brain for any incident that could have caused her to be radiating agony. She didn't remember much, just flashes of things if she really concentrated. She recalled that she had been with Brittany at Olivia's birthday party. She remembered with fondness that the gift she had brought the little girl had been well received. She remembered kids and some guy in a wheelchair asking her questions. Then she remembered raised voices and after that there was nothing, nothing but the memory of coming to in pain.

As she desperately tried to recall what had happened to her, Santana once again became aware of soft voices coming somewhere from her right. She knew she had heard them before, but unlike last time, now she could tell that they were female, and that there were two of them. The hand that she remembered holding her own was still there and was continuing to offer her gentle squeezes. Santana desperately wanted to know who was holding onto her and speaking in such soft tones, keeping her anchored.

Fighting against herself, Santana forced her eyes opened once more. The light returned and so did the pain it caused, but Santana pushed herself through it. Blinking rapidly, she tried to focus on keeping her eyes open for more than a few seconds. They watered in protest and took a few seconds and a few more blinks before they cleared slightly. A short time passed and Santana managed to force her head to turn slightly towards the direction of the voices and her mystery hand-holding lady.

Santana found her vision blurry; the instant a form swam into view she blinked a few more times and felt moisture that had gathered in her eyes escape. A lazy tear slid down the side of her cheek as a face framed by blonde hair become clearer. Despite the pain in her chest, Santana felt her heart beat a little faster as she recognised who was seated beside her.

Brittany. The name floated around Santana's head as she looked at the woman before her. She couldn't help the joy and relief she felt at seeing that face. Blue eyes were staring down at their joined hands and Santana's heart ached when she caught sight of the drying tracks of tears on the face of the blonde woman. She wanted to wipe them away the second she saw them and would have if Brittany didn't have a vice like grip on her hand. It was like she was afraid she would disappear; considering her position, Santana knew the hold was probably justified.

Taking in the other woman once more, Santana could see that her hair was mussed, her mascara a little smudged, and her eyes red and puffy in places, but even so, Santana thought she had never looked more beautiful. She was certain this was the best sight she had ever woken up to. It was clear to anyone looking at the same scene she was that Brittany was emotionally drained and on the edge. Santana could tell that she was desperately waiting for some sort of response from her and she felt the need to please her. She wanted to see those blue eyes look at her. She wanted to see them filled with joy, not pain and heartache that she could see filling them.

Poking her tongue out, Santana moistened her lips before she opened her mouth to try and gain the other woman's attention.

"Britt…" was all Santana managed to croak out through her dry throat before she coughed and a stabbing pain shot across her chest. Santana regretted the attempt to speak for all of two seconds before Brittany's eyes met her own, filled to the brim with hope and shock.

Santana forced her eyes to remain open for a moment or two, soaking up everything that was Brittany before she gave in. Squeezing them shut, she desperately pressed the hand Brittany wasn't holding to the middle of her chest as she willed oxygen into her lungs. Breathing as deeply as she dared, Santana gritted her teeth against the burning sensation as the fresh oxygen made its way into her lungs, expanding them deeply. It took several breaths of air and a minute of waiting before Santana felt the agony fade to a manageable level.

"Santana?" A familiar voice called her name and Santana felt another hand tentatively touch her cheek. She turned her head into the touch as the warm appendage gently stroked at her skin, and the scent that was all Brittany invaded her senses.

A sob filled the air and Santana felt her eyes flicker open to lock with Brittany's. "Oh my god, Santana… Santana, you're awake."

Santana desperately wanted to comfort Brittany and to tell her not to cry, that she didn't have to cry, that she was fine. But her recent introduction of pain via a coughing fit stopped her and instead Santana nodded her head in answer.

"Allie, she's awake, oh my god…" Santana felt liquid splash onto the hand Brittany was holding and she felt her own eyes filled to the brim with tears. A few more tears escaped from the corners of Brittany's eyes and fell onto her hand as she watched on helpless.

"Don't cry…" Santana whispered as she lifted the hand from her chest and pressed it into the side of Brittany's face. Brittany pressed her face into the touch and Santana watched as her eyes slid shut and as she sucked her lips into her mouth and she fought back a heavy sob.

"I'm sorry," Santana offered; she knew that it was her fault that Brittany was like this and she desperately wanted to take her pain way. She wasn't sure how she could do that so she just offered Brittany what comfort she could and used her thumb to wipe away the tears that continued to fall.

"No, don't apologise," Brittany said and Santana felt her hand cover her own and press it more firmly into her cheek. "I'm so glad that you're awake. Do you remember what happened?"

Santana shook her head in response to Brittany's question. She had no solid idea of what had happened. It was pretty obvious that she was in a hospital room. The uncomfortable bed and the beeping coming from machines she didn't care to see were dead give always. The instant she began to think about that, Santana felt panic fill her chest as she recalled what happened last time she had been laid up like this. That had been a very dark time in her life and she still couldn't recall what had happened that day. All she knew was that she had suffered a heart attack and she was extremely luck to still be alive.

Santana felt her chest heave again and she desperately fought off wanting to cough as she tried to calm herself down. She knew having a panic attack on top of whatever had happened to her wasn't a good idea, but Santana couldn't help the way her breathing deepened and her heart started to hammer in her chest. Suddenly, both Brittany and her hands where gone and something was pressing at her lips insistently.

Brittany's voice was soft in her ear, gently coaxing her to stay calm and Santana felt herself latching onto her. Brittany's bright blue eyes were wide and she was smiling at her gently as she angled a straw towards her mouth.

"Here, have some water, it'll help," Brittany insisted. Santana found herself obeying the command and opened her mouth to accept the straw and draw a small amount of the offered liquid into her mouth. "Small sips, don't drink too much, Santana, you might get sick or choke."

Santana tried to shoot Brittany a small glare for adding the last bit, but she knew the other woman only meant well, so she followed Brittany's instructions as best she could. But the cool liquid tasted so good and she just wanted more. Her draughts became stronger and the amounts of liquid she was drawing became larger. The straw was removed and Santana looked up at Brittany and saw the other woman looking at her with a small apologetic smile. Santana answered with one of her own as she took another calming breath and willed her heart to beat at a more manageable pace.

A throat cleared and Santana lazily trailed her gaze from Brittany to the person standing to her right. She instantly recognised the face turned towards Brittany. She missed the first part of the conversation they were having, but she managed to focus just as Allison, Brittany's younger sister started talking again.

"I'm gonna go and grab a doctor and tell them that Santana's awake. Then I'm gonna get us some of that nasty hospital coffee I love so much," Allison said as she lifted her arm and placed her left hand on Brittany's shoulder.

"Thanks, Allie," Brittany breathed as Santana watched her turn her attention back to her.

"No problem, Britt. Good to see you're awake, Santana, you gave us all one hell of a fright," Allison said and Santana found their eyes locking as the younger woman smiled at her. Santana found herself returning the smile and giving the other woman a small nod. With that Allison gave Brittany's shoulder squeeze before she made her way out of the room.

The door softly clicked shut after a few moments and Santana found her eyes locked with Brittany's once more. She couldn't help but smile as she looked at the woman who inspired such strong emotions with in her. Santana lifted her hand again and tucked a few stray strands of hair behind Brittany's ear. She went to drop her hand back to her chest, but before she could, Brittany clasped it between both of her hands and brought the back of her fingers to her lips. Santana felt her breath catch in her throat as Brittany lowered their entwined hands and leaned forward and pressed the gentlest kisses to her lips.

Santana lost herself as Brittany began to invade all her senses. She could still smell the perfume that she had applied this morning, but it had given way over the day to something that was uniquely Brittany. The lips moved against her own and Santana found herself responding, caressing them, never wanting the softness to leave her own. She wanted to drown in Brittany and she would have if she hadn't felt wetness against her cheeks. As the other woman pulled away her eyes were glistening with tears, giving away the depths of her emotions.

"Brittany…" Santana whispered quickly and tried to reach out once more but Brittany moved out of her grasp with a shake of her head. Santana could see her arm moving as she wiped frantically at her eyes, desperate to rid herself of the tears and evidence of her distress. Even though she wanted to jump up and pull Brittany back into her embrace, Santana knew it was best not to push the other woman to return to her. It was clear as she turned away from her that she was struggling with what whatever had happened to her, and it was clearly taking its toll.

"You scared me so much today, Santana," Santana heard Brittany mumble, her back still turned as she stared at the blank wall.

"What happened?" Santana asked quietly and apprehensively. Even though she was desperate to know what had taken place and how she had ended up here, Brittany's whole demeanour wasn't filling her with confidence.

"You collapsed," Brittany whispered brokenly as she dropped her head into her hands.

Santana couldn't see Brittany's face but she could hear the pain in those two raggedly spoken words. Brittany's shoulders were hunched and Santana could tell from their choppy movements that she was fighting off a round of tears.

Santana once again felt the desperate need to offer Brittany comfort and apologise for causing her pain. "I'm sorry," Santana said as she swallowed past the lump in her throat Brittany's words and actions had inspired.

"No… no it wasn't your fault," Brittany quickly explained as she spun round and moved closer to Santana.

"I'm still sorry," Santana said, apologising again as the words Brittany had just spoken echoed around her mind.

She had collapsed, but the main question was why? Why had she collapsed? What had happened to make her collapse? The pain in her chest was a great big fucking answer and one she was hoping wasn't what she thought it was. It was entirely possible that she had suffered another heart attack, but Santana didn't want to think about that for the time being. Instead something else entered her mind and made her gasp as she clutched at Brittany's hand desperately. "Did Olivia see?"

"No, she was inside, she didn't see anything," Brittany said with a shake of her head as she grasped Santana's hands within her own.

"Thank god," Santana whispered brokenly. She would have hated for Olivia to see her in a state other than healthy.

"She knows something happened though, but she's at home with my mom and Brian," Brittany quickly hastened to explain; Santana knew she must be able to read her distress.

"I'm so sorry, she must have been scared to death," Santana mused as she looked down at their joined hands.

She might not know Olivia as well as Brittany but she had gotten to know the little girl quite well over the time they had spent together. She was always eager to tell her about her hopes and dreams. She knew that the kid was strong willed and an adorable little menace, but she was also really sensitive. Also, Santana knew, even though she didn't really like to dwell on it, that Olivia looked up to her. Seeing or hearing about her being hurt would have upset her little friend. It was bad enough she had hurt Brittany, hurting Olivia made this whole situation unbearable.

"You don't need to apologise, you did nothing wrong," Brittany told Santana once again with a shake of her head before she elaborated on Olivia's state of mind. "She was a little scared, but I spoke to her on the phone she wants to come see you, to make sure that you are ok."

Santana was glad to hear that Olivia was doing well and that she wanted to come visit her. But if she was honest with herself, she didn't want Olivia to see her like this. She knew she must look like crap, and she still didn't know what was wrong with her. She could be in here for a while and with her track record it was possible that she had something serious wrong with her, something a kid shouldn't be exposed to. Still, she knew Olivia probably wanted to see her with her own eyes to confirm she was alive and well and Santana couldn't deny her that, she had already ruined her birthday. With that in mind she nodded her head and offered Brittany a small smile. "I'd like that."

Brittany smiled back and swore that she would let Olivia know that she was welcome to come see her when she next spoke to her.

"She's told me to tell you she gonna take real good care of Bonaparte for you. I don't know if you will get him back though, they are apparently camped out in her bedroom, stocked up on snacks and watching every Toy Story movie and short."

"Little traitor," Santana mumbled with a weak smile but it faded the instant she looked into the eyes of the woman before her. They had filled with tears once more and Brittany looked like she was on the verge of breaking down again. "Brittany, what's wrong?"

"I thought you were dying in my arms. I didn't know what to do, I just froze, holding you, begging you to wake up." As soon as the words left Brittany's lips, Santana felt herself pale.

Dying rang in her ears and she thought about how selfish she had been getting involved in Brittany's life. Sure, Mercedes had convinced her that life was short and that she had to take every possible opportunity it presented her to be happy, but she didn't really think she would have another heart attack again. She really didn't think that getting involved with Brittany and Olivia could have negative consequences, but now she was seeing that it was a distinct possibility.

"I'm so sorry, Brittany…I never thought something like this would happen again."

"Again?" Brittany asked, her brow creased as she tried to puzzle out what Santana was telling her. "So you've had something like this happen before? The doctors wouldn't tell us anything but you should have told me, I could have helped you."

"What did they say?" Santana echoed dumbly as her eyes glazed over with the implications of what Brittany was telling her.

"Not much, just that you needed rest and to recuperate." Brittany told Santana, who was sucking the simple words in further, filling in the blanks surrounding what had happened to her. Her mind almost short circuited when those words ricocheted around her brain. They were lacking so much detail. Santana was scared about the time that that detail was going to be delivered. However what Brittany had just told her was much more palatable than the two words she had been expecting to hear come from her mouth over the course of their conversation.

"They didn't tell you what happened?" Santana asked again, desperate for clarification. When Brittany nodded her head, Santana let out a shocked laugh. Her eyes squeezed shut and tears of frustration leaked from the corners of her eyes.

"Santana, are you ok?" Brittany squeezed her hand and Santana could hear the concern in Brittany's tone. Santana was aware that laughing like a mad woman while in a hospital bed wasn't a great thing to do. Especially after someone had just told you about the fact that they didn't have a clue what was wrong with you, but it was serious enough that you passed out for quite some time, but Santana couldn't help it.

Santana opened her eyes and looked into Brittany's blue pair. "I don't know, Brittany."

"Santana, I was so worried and I still am, but the doctor told me you would be ok after so rest. What did you think was happening again?"

"I thought that I was having a…" Santana trailed off as her mouth became dry with every word she uttered. She desperately wanted to say the last two words but as she looked into Brittany's eyes, Santana felt like her tongue was a lead weight.

The door to the room swung open and Santana watched as Brittany turned away from her, her confession forgotten as squeaky footsteps echo around the room. A head of thick dark hair appeared into view and was quickly followed by a tall and slim body covered in dark navy blue scrubs.

"Miss Lopez?" The man called out as he looked directly at her, a large smile twisting his lips upwards, almost meeting his eyebrows Grinch style.

"Yes," Santana answered hesitantly, even though Brittany had told her that she was going to be fine. Seeing a doctor brought on a bout of anxiety.

Hi, I'm Doctor Bowie." The tall man greeted her as he walked through the door and took a place at the bottom of the bed. Santana ran her eyes over the guy that Allison had gone to fetch. He looked pretty young, but he also looked confident. His shoulders were set back and his arms were folded across his chest.

Santana just found herself watching as the doctor remove some sort of chart that hung at the bottom of her bed and nodded at whatever was written there. With the chart in hand he moved around the bed to the opposite side from Brittany, removed the pen from the pocket in his scrub top and clicked open the pen he held within his left hand.

"It's good to see you're wake and looking a little better than when you first came up here. I'd just like to check your vitals and run a few simple tests to check that everything is in good working order."

After he had finished talking, the doctor looked towards Brittany with a small smile and Santana felt Brittany started to pull away from her. Shooting the doctor a look that told him Brittany was going nowhere, Santana tightened her grip on the other woman's hand. "No, Brittany, you can stay."

"I don't want to intrude," Brittany mumbled hesitantly and Santana looked towards her just in time to see her look towards the doctor to make sure it was ok if she stayed for the exam.

"I have nothing to hide," Santana said firmly as she gazed into Brittany's eyes, telling her that she was more than ok with her knowing anything that the doctor had to tell her. It was time she stopped hiding what had happened to her. The whole situation surrounding her arrival back in Ohio was going to come out sooner or later and lying in this hospital bed made Santana realise she had probably waited too long to tell Brittany about certain aspects of her life.

Santana looked back at the doctor just in time to see him nod his head up and down and then turn his attention back to the chart he held. "Sure, I don't have a problem with that." He made a note of something as he spoke before he put the file on top of the cabinet next to her bed and removed the small torch he had in the pocket of his scrubs.

"Ok, I'll make this quick," The doctor said as he leaned over her and started shining the light in her eyes before returning his attention to her chart, scribbling notes on the paper it held. "Let's start with an easy question, Miss Lopez. How are you feeling?"

"Like shit," Santana replied smartly, only to receive a raised eyebrow and a smirk from the doctor and a frown of disapproval from Brittany.

"How about you try again and add in a bit of detail this time." The doctor chuckled while Santana rolled her eyes.

"Fine, I feel like I have been hit by a bulldozer, everything hurts, even breathing," Santana grumbled and released a heavy sigh. It was a true enough statement. Her body felt like it had been through the wringer. If that was what collapsing did to her body, Santana was all ready to tell her body to go fuck itself, because she wanted no part of it doing it again.

The doctor briefly flicked up his eyes and gave her another large smile. "That's understandable."

"What happened?" Santana asked, wanting confirmation of what Brittany had told her.

"I can't really give you a definite answer on that at the moment Miss Lopez. I have a few ideas, but until I have run more tests, I can't be sure and would hesitate to give you a diagnosis." the doctor said as he looked over the top of the clipboard, eyebrows raised as his attention focused on her.

"Bullshit." Santana glared at the doctor response as he hummed thought fully before he continued.

"Miss Lopez, I'm try to be as helpful as possible here," The doctor explained as he ran a hand through his hair. Seeing the look she was giving him, Santana found herself on the end of another one of the doctor's large grins. "It's possible that this incident was just a one off."

"And it's possible it's not. Then again without knowing what the fuck happened to me, I can't be sure." Santana added, sarcastically. As the words left her mouth, Santana heard a sharp intake of breath from her right and reached over with her left hand to pat Brittany's, which was wrapped around her other hand.

"So whatever happened could happen again?" Brittany asked, her voice catching. Santana saw a haunted look in Brittany's eyes. It was a look she had seen before, it was a look that Mercedes had worn when she had first woken up after having come through surgery. It was a look that was filled with worry and dread.

"Just spit out what you think happened to me." Santana demanded, as the doctor looked at her a small frown creasing his brow.

The doctor sighed deeply and then shook his head slightly before he gave in. "From what I have been told, and the results from the tests we have taken so far, I'd say that you suffered from syncope brought on by tachycardia."

"What the hell does that mean?" Brittany asked not understanding the words the doctor had spoken.

Santana however didn't have that luxury, she had studied medicine before she had quit to follow her dreams. She understood the words and she understood the implications that they brought. Any relief she felt at not having heart the words heart and attack were diminishing rapidly.

"In layman's terms it means a lost consciousness due to an abnormal and rapid change in heart rhythm. I am more inclined towards tachycardia, because I was told that you heart was racing prior to your collapse and shortly after, Miss Lopez. Tachycardia an abnormal rhythm generated in either the upper or lower chambers of the heart and the heart beats too quickly. It can be dangerous as there may not be enough time for it to fill with blood in between each heartbeat, which then decreases the amount of blood the heart can deliver to the body. However it seems that you were lucky this time Miss Lopez."

"Isn't she too young to have something like that?" Brittany asked quietly, and Santana wished she was right, but she knew from her time in Medical school that it could happen to anyone, just like her heart attack. In certain things age didn't matter.

"Tachycardia can occur at any age and lots of things can trigger it. To answer your earlier question Ms Pierce it is possible that Miss Lopez could suffer from another attack. Like I said earlier this is just a one of several theories that I have, until I run more tests I don't know for sure."

"Great," Santana groaned sarcastically as the doctor finished speaking. If he heard her comment he chose not to reply on it. She didn't recall anything of what had happened and after listening to the list, Santana was kind of glad that she didn't.

"Going from the list of medication I have here I would be inclined to think of that as the cause of the incident, so it's not all doom and gloom. It could have been much worse, Miss Lopez." As he finished, the doctor briefly glanced over the top of his clipboard and gave her a pointed look.

"Yeah…" Santana murmured. She knew instantly what he was alluding to. Heart attack. Santana had to agree a passing out because her heart decided it wanted to beat out of her chest was infinitely better than having to experience that again.

"We have been in touch with your doctor in New York," Dr Bowie said, and Santana felt her stomach sink at those words. "He faxed us over your records and after having had a look at your medical history, and I have to say that considering what happened to you a few months ago, Miss Lopez, while this is serious it was a lucky escape."

"What do you mean? Why are you talking about medication and doctors in New York?" Brittany asked quietly before Santana could formulate a response.

The doctor went to open his mouth to answer Brittany's question but Santana quickly held up her hand to stop him.

"She doesn't know," Santana told the tall man next to her and his eyes widened in response. He looked at her with eyes that were a combination of apologetic and understanding.

Santana knew the time had finally come to tell Brittany what had happened to her. Telling Brittany about how she nearly died was going to be hard and Santana wasn't relishing the thought of the upcoming conversation. However, it wasn't the doctor's place to tell Brittany what had happened to her, nor did Santana want him to, no matter how appealing that prospect might be.

"Know what? Santana? What are you talking about?" Brittany asked looking a little lost as she looked from her and towards the doctor, desperate to know what was being kept from her.

"Have you finished?" Santana asked the doctor, even though she knew he hadn't. He had mentioned something about checking her vitals and all he had done was blind her with a torch and tell her she was lucky she wasn't having open heart surgery.

As she waited for the man next to her, Santana didn't shift her gaze from Brittany. The woman was still looking puzzled and was growing ever more concerned with every second that passed. She knew what was going to happen next was going to be emotionally draining for both of them. It was a conversation that was going to open a can of worms Santana had firmly kept the lid on since it had happened. There was no way she wanted some strange man standing next to her when she confessed to Brittany she had suffered a heart attack. She wanted to talk to her alone, so he had to leave and Santana was willing to do anything to make that happen. If he wouldn't leave of his own volition then she would get out of the bed and throw him out herself.

The doctor looked like he was going to say no for a minute or two, before he nodded his head and gathered up the clipboard. "There are still a few things I wanna check, but I'll have a nurse come in and finish up in ten minutes or so. The buzzer is right by your right hand if you need anything: just give it a press."

After the quick instructions and placing her notes back on the bottom of her bed the doctor quickly left the room and left Santana with a monumental task ahead of her.

Looking back at Brittany, Santana could see a multitude of questions floating behind her beautiful blue eyes. But along with them she could also see a huge amount of worry and fear within their depths. Brittany was clearly concerned and Santana knew she was right to be.

"Santana, what don't I know?" Brittany asked after a short period of silence as Santana slowly sucked her bottom lip into her mouth and contemplated how best to approach her confession.

"Something happened to me, Brittany, something bad." As soon as the words left her mouth, Santana felt a paralysing fear sweep over her. She was a tempted to just not tell her, but she also knew that Brittany was likely to just march outside and demand the doctor tell her what he was talking about. The guy probably wouldn't tell her, patient confidentiality and all that, but Santana had a feeling she would find out somehow and the damage that would do would be irreparable.

"Santana. Please, what's wrong, you're shaking," Brittany said gently and Santana realised that Brittany was right. Her hand was trembling within Brittany's grasp. Looking down at the point at which their flesh was joined, Santana tried to draw some strength from it.

"I'm afraid, Brittany," Santana admitted faintly. Brittany liked her, Santana knew that; she liked her a lot and she wasn't a shallow person. She was a good person, a person who always looked for the good in people, even when it wasn't there. Santana knew that Brittany wouldn't hold what happened to her against her, but she still couldn't help the fear that swept over her when she thought of Brittany being scared off by what had happened to her and the implications it held for their relationship.

"Well, don't be, you know you can tell me anything right?" Brittany said, her eyes shining brightly as they tried to tell Santana that she would be there for her through thick and thin.

"I know," Santana offered with a nod as a single tear escaped her eye and slowly made its way down her cheek. She was touched by Brittany's words; she hadn't known the other woman all that long but she just seemed to have a way about her that made her feel better, that made her feel like she could do anything and Santana realised that waiting and allowing her fear to overtake her wasn't helping. Taking a deep breath, Santana knew she had to just do it, she just had to say the words that she could hardly even say to herself at times. She just had to say them out loud.

Taking a deep breath, Santana locked eyes with Brittany and an allowed her mouth to form the words she had dreaded since she had first heard them months ago. "I had a heart attack."

"A heart attack?" Brittany echoed faintly, her eyes wide with shock.

"Yes," Santana answered simply as she felt Brittany's hand slacken around her own. Then the other woman smiled at her and released a small and strained laugh. She watched and Brittany completely removed her hand from her own and ran in over her face while shaking her head.

"No, I don't believe it. It's not possible, you're joking you're too young," Brittany said and Santana could see the look in Brittany's eyes. It was one that was begging her to tell her that she was lying. That she was just messing with her and she was gonna laugh and tell her that it was a prank.

"I'm not lying, Brittany," Santana sighed. She wished that she could have told Brittany what she had asked, but she also knew that was never going to happen, no matter how much she hoped and prayed.

Santana continued to watch Brittany as she tried to wrap her mind around what she had just told her. She could see the other woman struggling and she felt for her. She still didn't have a grip on what had happened herself and she had had months to try and deal.

She felt a sudden kinship and sympathy for Mercedes and Kurt who had each had to tell her mom and dad what had happened to her. This was the first time she had told someone she cared for and it was killing a little piece of her to see how much this was affecting Brittany. She had an idea that this news couldn't have come at a worse time considering she had collapsed in Brittany's arms just a few hours ago.

"When?" Brittany asked after a short time, her voice flat and her eyes demanding an answer.

Santana moistened her lips and took another deep breath before she answered Brittany's question. "About five months ago."

"Five months…" Brittany echoed as she noisily expelled air from her lungs. "God… is that why you came back to Lima?"

"Yeah..." Santana admitted with a nod of her head. "My doctor ordered me to get away from New York, somewhere that I could rest and to recuperate. My mom and dad travel a lot and when they are back in the States they hardly ever come here so they signed the house over to me a few years back it's been sitting empty since then. My friends know about it and thought coming here would be good for me. They practically forced me to come here; they wanted me to get better. Sitting in my apartment, on my own, in New York wasn't helping do that so I came home."

"But you're only thirty, Santana, how did that happen to you?" Brittany asked, puzzled as to how a seemingly healthy young woman could have a heart attack before she had turned thirty. Santana shared her confusion, because she had worn the same expression Brittany had when Mercedes had stood next to her while a doctor tried to explain to her what had happened. It was an expression she still wore sometimes, coupled with disgust, when she looked at the scar that marred her chest.

Realising Brittany was still waiting for an answer, Santana took a deep breath and looked up at the ceiling above the bed. "I don't know, Brittany. I was a fool, I guess. I didn't look after myself. I worked too hard, partied too hard. I drank, I smoked, and I didn't eat properly. It took too much out of me, I guess, and my heart decided to fuck me over."

"Why didn't you tell me?" Brittany probed as Santana looked at her once more.

"I don't know," Santana said as she shook her head after a short time and offered Brittany a small shrug of her shoulders in response.

"How can you not know? We have known each other for a while now, Santana, was it not important enough to mention?" Brittany asked, her voice rising slightly with each word.

"I was scared, ok," Santana snapped at Brittany but instantly regretted it when she saw Brittany's eyes begin to fill with tears once more. She could understand Brittany's anger. She knew where Brittany was coming from, and it was well and truly justified, but she hadn't had a malicious ulterior motive for not telling Brittany about her heart attack. She was a coward, plain and simple, and it was pure cowardice that had driven her to keep quiet.

"Scared? Of me?" Brittany asked and Santana caught her eyes widening when she gave a small nod. "Santana, you know I would never hold something like that against you don't you?"

"I didn't want you to feel sorry for me, Brittany, to think less of me, to look at me and see someone who is weak..." Santana trailed off at the end, looking down at her hands as they clutched the blanket thrown over her tightly.

"I don't think that, Santana, I didn't before and I don't know," Brittany said firmly.

"How can you not?" Santana asked, her eyes clenching shut as her voice rose in disbelief. As far as Santana was concerned she was right; she was weak, weak to have the heart attack in the first place and weak because she hadn't told Brittany until her hand had been forced. How Brittany didn't think so she didn't know.

Santana felt the mattress on the bed dip slightly. A warm hand gently came into contact with her cheek and Santana felt her eyes drift open. She looked towards Brittany and found her eyes locked into position as the other woman stared at her. "I don't feel sorry for you, Santana, I don't think you're weak, and I don't judge people over things that have happened to them that are beyond their control. Santana… you could have told me… you should have told me."

"I know, but I like you, Brittany. I like you a lot and you seem to like me back…"

"I do…" Brittany said, interrupting what Santana was saying. "I like you more than you know."

Santana's breath caught in her throat at Brittany's words. Her eyes shone with the possibilities that the statement held. She thought she knew what Brittany was trying to tell her and she returned the sentiment wholeheartedly. But she couldn't touch on it just yet, at least not without explaining everything that was behind her not telling Brittany about what had happened to her.

"I wasn't trying to hide anything from you, Brittany. I just didn't want to ruin what we're just starting to develop by telling you about something I desperately want to forget. I know that's probably wrong, I know it's not the best way to start something with you by neglecting to tell you something so important. But it's something I'm ashamed of. Something that when you and Olivia came into my life, it became easy for me forget. It's so shameful, Brittany; who has a heart attack aged thirty?" Santana's voice cracked at the end of her speech and she felt a tear escape from her eye only to be instantly wiped away by Brittany.

"It's nothing to be ashamed of, Santana," Brittany said firmly and Santana looked up to see the other woman staring at her intently. "I know I said those things before, Santana, without really thinking, but I am sure that lots of people have bad things happen to them when they were young. It could have happened to anyone."

"But it happened to me, not just anyone. It happened to me, Brittany, and I wish it hadn't," Santana cried, only to have Brittany shake her head in response.

"It did happen, Santana, you can't change that. I know that you know that, Santana; bad stuff happens to good people and we have to deal with it, we have to just accept it and move on."

"I have been dealing with it, I have to, I don't get a choice in this. My body screwed me over but it's so hard to deal with it. My housekeeper found me. The doctors say I couldn't have been there for longer than a few minutes. I owe that woman my life. If she hadn't found me I would never have lived long enough to make it to the hospital."

"No…" Brittany said, her hand quickly coming up to cover her mouth, trying to stop the sob that wanted to escape her mouth.

"I lie awake and think about that sometimes… the first few days after, I would just stare at the ceiling in my hospital room and wonder if it hadn't been better if she hadn't turned up to work that day, or if the doctors had just let me go," Santana confessed with a shake of her head. She had never told anyone that. She always felt disgusted in herself when she had thought about all the people who had prayed for her to live. "I've never told anyone this and I shouldn't have thought that way in the first place. Especially when people where sobbing and relieved for me to be alive. People who care for me, Brittany. But so help me, I did think those things, Brittany, I did. I even wished I would have died at times. I still sometimes look at the mountain of tablets that I have to take for the rest of my life just to function and I sometimes wish I had never woken up. I have this huge fucking ugly scar down the front of my chest, I can barely look at it some days."

"I wish that hadn't happened to you, Santana," Brittany said softly, her thumb gently stroking over the soft skin just under Santana's eye.

"I wish I had met you when you lived in New York. Things could have been so different for both of us," Santana confessed, her voice breaking as she thought of how both their lives could have been so different if they had meet in some other place or time.

Brittany smiled wistfully before she shook her head. "They could have been, but then I wouldn't have had Olivia and I wouldn't not have her in my life. Some things you just can't change, Santana."

Brittany was right. Santana knew that. Certain things could be changed, and certain things she wouldn't change. Looking at the woman before her, no matter what happened, Santana knew she didn't want to live another day without her in her life and the same went for the little girl who was part of the package that was Brittany Pierce.

"I wouldn't not have her in my life either," Santana admitted, smiling sadly as she covered Brittany's hand where it still rested upon her cheek. "She's such a great kid and that's why I think that all this happened for a reason. This was a wake up call for me, Brittany. I nearly died and that's what it took for me to realise I was missing something in my life. I had a heart attack and it brought me here, and if it hadn't happened I wouldn't have met Olivia and if I hadn't met Olivia I wouldn't have met you, Brittany, and if that hadn't happened I wouldn't have realised that I'm falling in love with you."

Looking into the paper cup in her hand, Allison couldn't help how her lips curled up in a mild expression of disgust as she looked at the black sludge filling it up to the brim. She still couldn't quite believe the best part of the hospital had the same crappy coffee machine that the emergency room had. They had to be two of the worse coffee machines in the history of the world.

The stupid piece of junk had taken all her change for just one cup of what she could only describe as motor oil. Hell, it even smelled like something that should be lubricating something in her car not her insides. It had to be the thickest, blackest coffee she had ever had the misfortune to give up on. It was even worse than the shit they served at the diner a block down from her gallery - which always puzzled her considering it was supposed to be Lima's 'business quarter' and filled with as close as their town could get to yuppies. I mean, it was bad business to serve up shit when there were people who would be willing to pay top dollar for something halfway decent. Then again, most people either went the Lima Bean or Starbucks, so she didn't suppose it mattered.

Shaking her head to rid herself of the pointless thought, Allison looked down at the cup again and let out a sigh. She wouldn't be so pissed if she hadn't ordered a cappuccino, only to receive what looked like a cup of molasses. It just topped off the crappy end to an otherwise awesome day.

Grimacing, Allison brought the cup to her lips and gamely took a sip. She had paid for the nasty drink, so as far as she was concerned she might as well drink it, consequences be damned. However, the moment the scalding hot liquid hit her tongue, Allison found herself revising her previous position on the subject as her face twisted in disgust. "Urghhh, gross."

Shaking her head, Allison found herself dumping the coffee down the grate where the cup had first appeared before throwing the cup in the trash can next to it. She would have thrown the whole machine in if she were able to move the piece of junk. She was tempted to order another cup to see if the latte it proudly announced it could produce was any better than the god awful cappuccino she just sullied her mouth with, but thought better of it. There was no way that piece of crap could churn out anything half way decent and she promised Brittany she wouldn't be too long after she had returned with the doctor.

Allison found her mind focusing on her sister as she stared at grid which her coffee had disappeared into. Brittany was worried sick and Allison was worried about her. She had cursed her mom the minute Santana had collapsed and she cursed her again now. The woman meant well, but she just couldn't leave well enough alone sometimes. She was protective of them both, but when it came to Brittany the older woman was like a tiger. She had told her numerous times to just leave Brittany alone; even today she had warned the older woman to just let her questions and suspicions go. She had told her that she could question Brittany and express her concerns later when everyone had gone, but their mom just couldn't leave well enough alone. She was determined that Brittany be aware of every possible pitfall in a relationship with Santana, no matter how unlikely they may be.

Their mom had always been protective of them, but it was only when Brittany had returned from New York that this overbearing mother bear part of her had taken over. Brittany had been distraught and lost and at the time she had needed that from their mom because she had just her heart broken and found out she was pregnant to the very same douche bag.

Now, however, she didn't need their mom to be smothering her and questioning her every move. She was a grown woman; their mom had comforted her and she had been there for her when she healed, but she could make her own choices; good or bad, it was her life and only she could live it.

Allison only hoped Santana would be ok, and that their mom heeded this whole episode as a warning that meddling in this wasn't a good idea. She had a terrible feeling that if something happened to the other woman, Brittany was going to be inconsolable. Not to mention Olivia; that kid adored Santana. She also knew that Brittany would blame their mom and it would put a terrible strain on their already tested relationship. However, she knew that overall Brittany she would blame herself because she was that type of person.

Her sister denied that anything was going on between the two of them, but Allison knew otherwise. She had seen the way they looked at each other throughout the party. Although she hadn't mentioned it at the time, because she had planned to tease Brittany about it later, she had been witness to the kiss they had shared in the hallway. It was clear from the way they had touched each other and the way it had lingered that it wasn't a kiss between friends. While she was ecstatic that she sister was starting to get her freak on with someone, she was scared to death because that someone was lying in a fucking hospital bed a couple of meters away. She was just grateful that Santana had finally woken up, even though this whole situation was a complete and utter mess.

Shaking her head and checking her watch, Allison felt a small smile over take her face. She had spied a couple of Starbucks cups at the nurse's station and she knew there had to be one near the hospital. Big buildings full of people were like magnets to franchises. She was hesitant about leaving Brittany on her own for too long, but she knew her sister would probably appreciate a nice, well-made cappuccino and no Pierce woman would ever refuse piece of banana walnut bread.

Mind made up, Allison spun on her heel and took a step forward only to find herself stumbling back as a blur of black shot past her down the hall. She followed the running form and opened her mouth to shout out, but her words caught in her throat when two strong hands steadied her on her feet. A large mouth formed an apologetic smile for her, before they mumbled the word sorry and then disappeared along with their owner down the hall after the black blur and a huge hulking guy wearing what Allison was sure was a gun.

Taking stock of what just happened, Allison couldn't believe who had just had their hands on her. If this day hadn't already been so messed up she would never have believed what had just happened. Sam Evans had just touched her. Sam 'the body' Evans, boyfriend of the biggest recording artist of their generation, Mercedes Jones, had just had his hands on her. If she wasn't nearing her thirties and tired as hell, Allison was sure she would have reverted back to being about sixteen and a screaming mess. It was so fucking surreal; this whole day was a total mind fuck. Allison didn't think she could take much more. She briefly wondered why he would be here in Lima, since she didn't remember anything on the news about concerts or about him and his and his band members touring. Her receptionist had a daughter who was boy band mad, she was always going to concerts and Marie, God help her, was always having to fork out money for tickets.

Shaking the thought away, Allison decided to head back to Santana's room to grab her jacket and tell Brittany where she was going and what had just happened. She knew it would probably take her mind off worrying about Santana for a moment or two.

It didn't take Allison long to navigate her way down the short corridor that separated her from Santana's room. However, the moment she turned the corner she instantly noticed the burly guy who had been trailing Evans and the black blur standing by the door to Santana's room and looking at her with narrowed eyes. Within a few strides she was in front of him and trying to enter the room she had left a short time ago, but before she could open her mouth she found a hand shoved in her face.

"I need to get in there," Allison said she pointed to the door behind the guy.

"Are you a doctor?" The guy asked with a frown, his deep rich voice elongating the words doctor.

"What? No."

"Sorry can't let you in," the guy said as he shrugged his shoulders and shifted in front of the door in case she decided to rush him. "This is a private matter, no autographs today. You'll have to move along, ma'am."

"Are you serious?" Allison asked, not believing what was happening. She couldn't believe this guy thought she was an Evans fan, that she wanted his autograph. Yeah, he was hot if she was like twelve, but she was married and Brian was, well, better looking. Glaring at the huge dick in front of her, Allison wondered how she was going to get around him. It was like she had stepped into the twilight zone after drinking that coffee. She briefly wondered if that crap had been spiked but dismissed it when she saw a flash of blonde hair in the small rectangle window of the door. "Brittany, are you in there?"

The door opened a crack and Allison sighed in relief when she saw her sister appear looking puzzled. "Allie, is that you?"

"Yeah, Britt, it's me. This guy won't let me in the room," Allison said as she pointed to the hulking man blocking her path.

"It's ok, she's my sister," Brittany told the guard and Allison gave the guy a smug little smile as he rolled his eyes.

Before she could say anything to him about being a tool, Brittany had taken her arm and already pulled her into the room, past the guard. Allison turned to tell Brittany about what a douche bag the guy outside was, but the words died in her throat as she took in the scene she had been dragged into. The first thing she registered was the fact that Santana was looking better than she had when she had first woken up and she was sitting up in the bed. Allison went to smile at Brittany but it quickly faded when she saw that her arms were wrapped around another woman who was sobbing into her chest, mumbling incoherently. It was pretty clear who she was and Allison found herself gobsmacked as her day got even more bizarre.

There, holding onto Santana like she was going to disappear into thin air, and sobbing loudly was Mercedes freaking Jones. She could hear Santana reassuring the other woman that she was fine and not to worry, she wasn't going to die. The form of Sam Evans stood beside them, his face contorted into a look of concern, his hand on the lower back of the woman Santana was holding, offering her strength in the only way he could at that moment and mirroring Santana's words, reassuring the woman before them that she was fine.

"What going on?" Allison asked as she finally found her voice, receiving a sigh from Brittany in response.

Allison snapped her gaze to her sister, who looked as confused as she felt, but along with that confusion Brittany also looked hurt. Allison wanted to ask her what was wrong, but Brittany just shook her head and gave her a look that told Allison that now was not the time. So instead she just looked back at the weird scene on the bed; if she hadn't seen it with her own eyes she would never have believed it.

"I should never have left the room for that crappy coffee," Allison mumbled to herself as she wondered what the hell she had missed while she had been drinking motor oil in the hallway.

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