Don't Ever Lie To Me
In Lima, Ohio there was a small park dead center of town. Some days, a walk there could be taken in perfect seclusion, while other times the community of kids from surrounding neighborhoods populated every inch and blade of grass the ground had to offer. For parents, it was a place to drop their kids and have them be babysat by adults that they frequently invited over for dinner. For kids, the park meant seeing their friends from elementary school and daring each other to jump off the higher throngs of the playground. The park was symbolic for almost everyone in town for one reason or another but there were a few who held the place in a much richer part of their hearts, for reasons important only to themselves.
One child, with an appreciation greater than all of her friend's combined, was Brittany Pierce. She laid on the ground staring up into the clouds with a furrowed brow, mumbling to herself contentedly. Staying off the equipment had always been her thing and that day wasn't any exception.
The sky, filled with puffy clouds she distinguished into the shapes of her favorite animals, laid open and vulnerable to her inquisitive eye. She muttered their names, "Rabbit, cat, turtle," in confusion, tracing the shapes with her finger pointed straight up in the air, trying to place a title on each one. They weren't what she wanted to see and that annoyed her.
Growing tired of the confusing animals, Brittany shut her eyes and relaxed into the soft cushion of grass beneath her back. After a few gentle moments of the breeze scraping past her bare arms, the sun's rays left her face and she pouted. A cold crept over her cheeks and she had to fight the chill slowing moving up her spine.
"Britt-Britt?" The voice would have startled her if it wasn't so familiar. "Are you sleeping?"
Hearing her best friend's voice, Santana Lopez, immediately brought a smile to Brittany's face.
"No. I got tired trying to figure out what animals were in the sky…so I decided to close my eyes instead."
Confused at first, Santana looked up at the sky to see if there were any birds flying around. Upon seeing the clouds she immediately understood Brittany had been seeing the shapes of animals mimicked by the fluffy clouds. She knew Brittany had a wild imagination, which sometimes caused the other kids to tease and pick on her, but she completely got how Britt viewed the world. Sometimes she even wished she could think along the same pattern.
Looking back down to the girl on the ground she smiled. "Oh, well I got us ice cream."
At the mention of ice cream, Brittany's eyes shot open and she darted forward to inspect Santana's hands.
Only after a few seconds did she look questioningly her friend, wary of the the delicious treats.
"Where did you get these?" Brittany asked.
Santana averted her eyes. Usually Brittany caught her lies quickly, but she decided it was worth a shot anyway. "Um, well, I just saw these two cones sitting on one of the picnic tables next to the swing set and I figured if nobody wanted them then we should have them."
She exhaled, glad to make it through the fib without stuttering. She hoped Brittany would let it go—
"No one would leave ice cream on a table. Ice cream is amazing. Where did they come from?" Brittany asked again making sure to hold her friend's gaze.
"I-I don't know, s-someone just gave them t-to me," Santana said locking her stare with Brittany's. She was going to hold to her lie as long as she could. She would not lose her pride to—
"Quit lying," Brittany demanded in her "serious" voice. Rarely did Santana hear that tone and it told her exactly when to give up. If there was one thing she knew, Brittany hated being lied to; it had something to do with people thinking she was gullible or something like that.
With a sigh, she muttered, "Fine. Puck and Finn were playing tag with that gross Berry girl and they left their ice cream so I took it." She huffed at having to explain herself. But she also felt bad for lying to her friend in the first place.
"San, come on." Brittany took both cones from Santana's hands and stalked away towards the other playing kids. Santana groaned and followed Brittany at a slow pace. They made their way over to the swing sets—at least she hadn't lied about everything—and found a small dark boy with a Mohawk standing over a tinnier brunette girl whimpering on the ground.
"I tagged you Berry that means you have to chase us. Not sit on the ground and wait for us to come near you!" he shouted down at her. A taller brown-haired boy walked over to the pair and helped the small girl to her feet.
"Come on, Rach. It's fun if you just play along." Engorged cheeks grinned at her in a way that managed to elicit a blush on Rachel's cheeks. Thinking quickly, she tapped his shoulder and ran away from them.
"Dude, that girl likes you," the boy teased his friend. The taller one grinned sheepishly and forced his eyes down to the ground to hide his embarrassment.
"No way. We're just friends. Girls are gross anyway." He whispered the last part to himself.
Brittany's voice broke them out of their conversation and they both turned to see her stalking their way, followed by an irritated Santana, muttering angry words as she walked.
"Ladies," Noah said smoothly as the girls finally reached them. "What brings you—are those our ice cream cones! How did you get them? We put them down for a second to play tag and then they were gone." He snatched the two cones out of Brittany's hands and handed one to Finn.
"Er…thanks Brittany." Finn muttered to the girl in front of him. He leaned his head to the side to get a better look behind Brittany. "Santana."
Santana waved her hand dismissively. She was happy Brittany hadn't made her apologize for taking their ice cream but she was not going to be happy she was now sweet-deprived. Quickly she devised a plan to manipulate her parents into giving her ice cream later. 'What kind though? Cookies and Cream? Cookie Dough? Definitely something with cookies…'
"You're welcome. San took them, but I made sure we didn't eat your food. That'd be wrong, right Santana?"
The question pulled Santana out of her thoughts and caught her off guard. "Wait what?" she asked. Brittany glared at her for not paying attention.
"I was saying that you wanted to apologize for taking something that wasn't yours." Brittany was indicating that she needed to say something. Santana knew she wasn't going to get away without some sort of apology.
"Oh yeah. Sorry, guys," she said with no hint of sincerity. Her tight-lipped smile sealed the forced apology.
A grin grew on Brittany's face, satisfied that she had fixed the problem. "Well bye guys. We're gonna go walk around the water and see the ducks before our parents pick us up. Bye!"
Brittany grabbed Santana's hand causing a blush to creep into her cheeks. She was used to the gesture but they had never held hands in front of their friends and she couldn't help the instant embarrassment. Her eyes stared directly into the dirt at her feet and she kicked at the loose pebbles. Before she had much time to process, Brittany was tugging her harshly towards the edge of a lake centered in the middle of the park.
"Girls are weird." Finn turned to see Noah licking the remains of his ice cream off his fingers.
"Yeah but those two are cute." Noah pointed towards the retreating figures of the two girls.
"Hey! I thought we were playing tag," Rachel's shrill voice called from the other side of the Jungle Gym. She peered around the side of the slides giving them both a as they searched to find where her voice had come from.
Noah took off running from Finn, remembering their game, and caught up to Rachel who Finn has his eyes trained on.
"Yeah…cute," Finn muttered, before setting off and running towards his two friends.
Still holding hands, Brittany and Santana walked side by side at the edge of a pond which reflected the sun into a shimmering white light masking the top of the water. At a slow and steady pace they admired their surroundings in a complete and comfortable silence. Santana focused on the deep green colors of the woods encasing the back parts of the pond while Brittany searched frantically (but quietly) for those elusive little animals she had grown to love. She hoped she could find a duck that resembled the one Santana gave her for her last birthday. She would've loved to pretend that her own stuffed toy had come alive.
Santana felt Brittany quicken her pace when the sound of quacking sounded off in the distance. She smiled to herself knowing how much Brittany loved the annoying little birds. Personally, she didn't see the big deal. They were loud, they bit, and crapped all over the place. She would much rather see a lion or a tiger, something exotic. But instead she was forced to see the same lame ducks (no pun intended) she always saw.
But she knew that seeing them was Brittany's favorite thing to do. Brittany would smile endlessly as long as she got to be near those annoying little things. And seeing her happy was good enough for Santana. Nothing made her happier than when a grin was plastered across her best friend's face, and knowing she helped make it happen.
"San," Brittany stopped them and quickly grabbed her hand so that she held both of them in between their bodies.
"What Britt-Britt?" Santana faced Brittany with the lake as a backdrop for those long blonde locks that cascaded around her friends face. She smiled at how the sun brought out the gold highlights in Brittany's hair.
"Don't lie to me," she deadpanned in utter seriousness. Her blue eyes bore into Santana's relentlessly. She was going to get her point across one way or another.
"But Britt I didn't—" Santana started to say but was cut off swiftly.
"Yes, you did San. I know you didn't want to get in trouble and you really wanted that ice cream but you lied to me. I don't like it when you lie. We're supposed to be best friends. Best friends tell each other the truth, no matter what." Brittany said each word with conviction trying to show Santana how serious she was.
She didn't know what to say. Instead, she stared behind Brittany for a moment thinking of how to apologize. She didn't mean to hurt her feelings. She just really wanted that ice cream. Brittany wasn't supposed to take it so seriously. She took a deep breath and let it out.
"I'm sorry, Britt. I won't ever lie to you again. About anything, I promise." Santana gazed back into the blue eyes in front of her and saw the grave look disappear, instead replaced with one of sheer happiness.
"Pinky promise?" Brittany thrust her left pinkie finger into Santana's face. A smile grew slightly on her face as she watched Santana lift her pinkie up into the air to link them together.
"Pinky promise." The corner of her lip twisted up as she linked her pinky with Brittany's and squeezed hard to seal the promise. It seemed easy enough to keep. Brittany was her best friend. What reason could she have to lie to her in the first place?
"Good," Brittany replied lowering their fingers but keeping them intertwined. "Let's go then." She pulled Santana forward and towards the large mass of quacking birds.
The smile never left Santana's face.
Brittany crawled into her bed, pulling the duck-covered sheets up and over her chest, and waited for her mother to come in and finish the job. While she waited, she remembered all the fun she had at the park. Playing on the swing sets with Santana seeing who could go higher, walking with Santana around the park, she even laughed remembering when Santana threw a rock at one of the ducks and it chased after her, knocking her off balance and into the water.
Santana, Santana, Santana. Even saying her best friend's name brought a large smile to her face.
"What are you smiling about?" Anna Pierce said to her daughter as she walked over. She pulled the duck comforter up and around Brittany, slowly recollecting how her daughter begged and begged for it: the pouting she had to deal with in the store and even Santana joining in, wining her way into convincing Anna to purchase the set for Brittany. She remembered the smile they shared afterward while lying in the newly opened blankets, and even the soft "thanks" Brittany muttered before they fell asleep next to each other.
"I had so much fun at the park today! Santana and I did everything. We played on the swings, and played tag with the boys, and we stopped Noah from shoving Rachel into the pond, and we—" Brittany began to ramble.
"Okay, okay hun, shhh. It's time to go to sleep. I'm glad you had a fun time today." Anna whispered and tried to soothe her into sleep. Brittany had a tendency to never calm down once she was riled up. She kissed her on the forehead and whispered "goodnight" before turning around to leave the room.
As soon as she neared the door, Brittany called to her mother, "Mommy, I have a question."
Sighing, Anna turned around and walked softly back over to her bed and sat down on the edge. She knew Brittany only used Mommy when she was seriously concerned about something.
"Yes dear?" she said softly and began running her fingers through the long, blonde hair that fell around Brittany's shoulders.
"You know how when me and Santana play house and we never know who is going to be the daddy and who is going to be the mommy? Well today Rachel was telling us about her two daddies. She doesn't have a mommy, she said she didn't need one cause her daddies love her enough and her daddies love each other more than other people's mommies and daddies love each other." Brittany paused unsure of how to ask her question. "Couldn't there be two mommies then? If Rachel can have two daddies then why can't we both be mommies when we play house. We love each other right?"
Anna's eyes grew as Brittany continued with her explanation. She immediately knew what her daughter was suggesting. Surely Brittany didn't love Santana in that way, she was seven. How could that even be a possibility to her? She assured herself that Brittany wouldn't understand the implications of being gay at this age. Brittany meant that she loved Santana like a best friend. They were best friends. Best girl-friends. She quickly thought of a way to answer.
"Britt, honey, the way you love Santana is not like Rachel's daddies. There's a difference between friend love and love-love, like how I love your father. Rachel's daddies are not wrong for loving each other but it's a different kind of love."
Brittany thought hard about that for a moment. Anna soothed the rigid crease in her brow with a gently while she waited for an answer.
"So if I loved San in a different way it would be okay?"
Anna clenched her jaw at the question, unsure how to answer without upsetting her daughter. She knew it wasn't wrong for girls to have feelings for other girls. But she also didn't want Brittany to assume she "loved" Santana in that way at such a young age. She decided to just answer her daughter honestly.
"Yes honey, it would be okay."
"Awesome." Brittany broke out into a huge grin and turned her back to her mother. Anna exited the room and closed the door quietly. Brittany turned back over to reach under the other side of her bed. Finding what she searched for, she climbed back under the covers and let herself drift off into a peaceful sleep.
To her chest, Brittany clutched her toy duck and remembered the day at the park when Santana gave it to her:
"This way you can take it home with you," Santana said, holding the toy in front of her with two hands. "You love 'em so I thought you could have one."
"You got this for me," Brittany asked. She took the gift and marveled at how soft it felt pressed against her cheek. She knew it wouldn't have felt as awesome if it hadn't come from Santana.
"Of course. You're my best friend."
Brittany dove forward and took Santana into her arms, squeezing their bodies together in the best hug she could ever remember having.
"You're my best friend too."
For Brittany, the park meant something different too. It meant the place where her friendship with Santana began. And for her, that was the best reason to keep going back.