I do not own Glee or the original characters, it all belongs to RIB and Fox. Anyone you don't recognise are my own creations.

Thank you so much for your reviews for the last chapter and for your patience during the long wait (again) for an update!

A/N - Due to reasons that some of you are aware of, this will be the only update until July.

R&R please.

Chapter 21

Santana walks straight into Quinn's open arms as she walks into the kitchen, burying her face in the blonde girl's neck and inhaling her comforting scent. Quinn's arms tighten around the Latina's athletic frame and she soothingly rubs her back, avoiding going near her sensitive backside. She murmurs tenderly in her ear, so quietly that Brittany, who is sitting at the table, can't hear.

"What time is it?" Santana asks quietly, her voice muffled against her girlfriend's neck.

"It's almost seven thirty, you must have been exhausted. Are you hungry?" Quinn asks, feeling Santana shake her head no against her. "How about a walk? We can talk about stuff" the blonde suggests softly and Santana nods. "Alright, are you good for a bit?" she asks Brittany, the tall blonde nodding with a smile that nobody realises is forced. Quinn leads the silent latina from the kitchen and out onto the deck to where Rachel is waiting for them, the diva silently following them. Quinn notices that Santana holds onto her hand a lot tighter than she usually does as they step onto the sand, Rachel on the latina's other side with her arm looping through hers as they walk. Neither girl know what to say to the raven haired girl, both unsure as to whether or not they should bring up what they had discussed; especially when Santana seems content for the first time in days.

"I'm glad we brought Brittany out here with us" Rachel tells them softly, breaking their comfortable silence. "I'm glad she's safe" the diva adds, missing the look of guilt that flashes across Santana's tanned features. Quinn, however, does not and it confuses her. She chooses not to say anything yet, thinking she may just be reading too much into it and not wanting to upset either of her girlfriends.

"What time do you want to do it tonight?" Santana asks Quinn softly, her dark eyes focusing on the sand below their feet. The blonde catches the wary glance that Rachel sends in her direction and she sighs softly and stops abruptly, causing the two other girls to stop as well.

"I'm not going to spank you tonight" Quinn murmurs, feeling her heart break at the way Santana's face crumples with despair, dark eyes pleading with her. "You're in so much pain baby, I should never have even threatened you with one every night, it's too much for you and I'm sorry. This is just as much my fault as it is yours and I'm sorry sweetheart but I'm not spanking you tonight, I just don't feel like I can do it without causing some damage and I'm not comfortable risking it" the blonde explains.

"Please Quinn.. I need this" Santana pleads, her tanned hands gripping Quinn's as she fights back the tears that threaten to fall, the blonde staring at her in horror. The latina looks so broken and desperate that it hurts Quinn to even look at her and she feels guilt flow through her body as she she watches Rachel take the now sobbing Santana into her arms. "Please" the latina whimpers, the diva murmuring softly to her while Quinn stands frozen to the spot, her gaze blurring from the tears that gather in her hazel eyes. The blonde swipes at her eyes and turns away from her girlfriends, slowly walking further away from the beach house, her steps growing gradually faster until she is running flat across the sand. She doesn't see Santana fall to her knees, doesn't see Rachel attempt to soothe the distraught latina but the sound of the girl's bitter sobs never leave her ears.

0-00-0

Brittany feels her chest clench as she steps out onto the deck, instantly the recognising the heart broken cries that come from the beach as Santana's and she leans on the railing as she tries to scope out what's going on. She watches sadly as Rachel tries to pull the devasted Santana to her feet but the latina isn't budging, the diva's shoulders slumping as she looks around helplessly. Brittany pushes herself away from the railing and makes her way down the steps, jogging over to her two dark haired ex girlfriends.

"I've got her" the blonde murmurs softly as she kneels down and pulls Santana to her feet and easily picks her up. The taller girl carries the latina bridal style across the sand, Santana sobbing into her neck and doesn't even seem to care about who it is that is carrying her. Rachel, however, does care and she warily follows the two girls back to the beach house, wondering if this could possibly complicate things further for them despite feeling grateful that Brittany came out to help. The blonde carefully lays Santana down on the bed she shares with Quinn and Rachel, surprised that she has to coax the latina to remove her arms from around her neck. "It's okay, Rachel's right here" she whispers as she backs away from the bed, almost bumping into Rachel who stares at her helplessly.

"Quinn..." Rachel mutters.

"Will be fine" Brittany interrupts. "I'll go find her" she adds, rubbing her hand soothingly up and down the diva's arm, her hand lingering a little longer than necessary and she awkwardly pulls back. Rachel nods, hoping her eyes convey her gratitude as the lump in her throat makes it too hard for her to speak. Once they are alone the short brunette carefully climbs onto the bed and lays in front of Santana, wrapping her arms around her distraught girlfriend as the latina cries into her chest. How could she have not seen this coming? How had she not noticed how fragile both her girlfriends were even now, so long after their break-up with Brittany. She knows that she herself has been struggling with having Brittany around them so much lately but she thought Quinn and Santana were doing alright, she had assumed that they had learned from past mistakes and would know to talk to each other when they weren't doing so well.

"It's okay honey, I've got you" Rachel murmurs soothingly, tightening her arms around Santana as her own tears well in her eyes. Could it be that neither girl had realised themselves just how badly they were doing? Or had they maybe thought that they were the only ones feeling this way and were too scared to bring it up to the others in case they brought the heartbreak back to the surface. Each girl's reactions to the earlier conversation had taken Rachel by surprise, it seemed like such an overreaction to her but she knows from the past that when you're feeling so overwhelmed with your emotions working on over time it only takes the slightest of things to set off the explosion that has been brewing. She gently kisses Santana's head, the latina's sobs dying down to the odd sniffle or hiccup and she repositions them so that she is sitting against the headboard with Santana's head in her lap.

"I'm sorry" Santana whispers, her voice hoarse from crying.

"Don't apologise for your feelings" Rachel murmurs in response, her fingers running through the jet black locks that fan out across her knees.

"She left" the latina mutters painfully, "She said she couldn't punish me which can only mean that she can't forgive me and then she turned around and left. Why would she do that? Why would she leave?" she asks, sounding much younger and smaller as she looks up at Rachel with sad, swollen eyes.

"She's not gone sweetheart, she hasn't left us... she just.. I guess she was feeling overwhelmed and just needed to be on her own" Rachel tells her softly. "Britt went to go find her, everything's going to be okay" she adds, though she isn't so sure that it will be. "You got so upset on the beach, you couldn't even stand up...that wasn't just about today was it?" she asks knowingly.

"I need her to do it, I need the proper punishment" Santana whispers. "She won't be able to forgive me unless it's the proper punishment, neither of you will" she adds fearfully. "Even if she says it's okay to take a break, it's not..she said every night, it has to be every night" the latina whimpers and Rachel can't see any of the usual Santana inside those terrified dark eyes.

"Why didn't you talk to one of us? You've been inside your own head and letting it all build up. If you had said something to us then we would have told you that we already do forgive you and that taking a break isn't going against the rules of punishment. Seven spankings in seven days is a lot, both physically and emotionally and let's not forget about the punishment you had back at the motel..that's eight in eight days honey. Accepting that you need to take a break doesn't mean you're not taking your punishment seriously or that it's wrong to need a break. It just means that you need a break, there isn't anything more to it than that, Quinn didn't want to cause any damage and she didn't want to destroy your relationship with her" Rachel explains, her eyes serious as she looks deeply into her girlfriend's eyes.

"Why would it destroy us?" Santana questions, her brow kinking as she studies Rachel curiously.

"Are you telling me that you don't already feel some resentment towards the arrangement? That you don't regret agreeing to this kind of relationship" Rachel asks, seeing the realisation on the girl's tanned features. "Overdoing it could do far more damage to this relationship than ignoring a broken rule could. It's already affecting the relationship, neither you or Quinn have great judgement right now because all you've been thinking about is how you need to get through this week to earn your redemption while panicking about how you would lose us if you didn't and all Quinn has been thinking about is how you would view it as rejection if she called it off for a couple of days" the diva murmurs. "And Quinn was right, you saw this as a huge rejection and the way I see it is both of you have been worrying so much lately that you're forgetting the most important thing; we love each other. Quinn reacted to you getting upset probably because she feels like she failed you and you think that you've failed us. Am I right?"

"I just don't want her to think I'm overreacting" Santana murmurs sadly.

"She knows you're not overreacting, we both do and do you know why?" Rachel asks pointedly.

"Because you can see that it hurts?" the latina guesses, tears pooling in her almost black eyes again and she rapidly blinks them away, a couple dropping onto her lashes and causing them to shimmer.

"Because we trust you" the diva responds. "There wouldn't be a relationship if we didn't trust each other. None of us actually like being spanked but we all accept that we need it and we don't try to worm our way out of it because we know that we deserve it and we respect each other to be honest about it. You should have said something Santana, you should have said how you were feeling...both of you should have, all of this could have been avoided. You have a say in this, don't you think Quinn would have felt awful if she had went ahead with it tonight only to find out that you were doing it because you were scared about letting her down, which you could never do, not like this" Rachel states passionately. "If the roles were reversed and it was Quinn who had earned this punishment, would you have wanted to go ahead with it tonight?"

"No, I guess not" Santana mumbles, feeling like an idiot for her reactions and knowing that Rachel is right; talking to each other would have prevented this. "She's upset with herself for not doing it? That's not fair" the latina sighs.

"No..it's not" her girlfriend agrees with a shake of her head.

"I made her feel like she was wrong for not being comfortable to do it tonight" the latina states guiltily. "Do you remember when we first wrote up the rules? When we made sure to add a rule that the person who does the spanking has to be comfortable with it?" she asks, Rachel nodding, seeing that she has finally gotten through to her and feeling relived but still scared for Quinn at the same time. "I screwed up" Santana mutters bitterly.."Again"

"Hey" Rachel says a little more sharper than intended. "You made a mistake, you're only human and you've had a really rough few days, don't put yourself down because of it" she tells her firmly, surprising Santana with the force behind her words. The latina watches her for a moment, deep in thought as she thinks about the girl's words and her amazing understanding of the situation and she wonders if she has underestimated the petite brunette.

"If you ever need to, you can" Santana finally blurts out, Rachel's eyebrows raising in surprise and she assumes that she is misunderstanding the latina. "Punish me, I mean" Santana confirms, her voice steady and serious as she gazes at the diva.

"Are you sure? Would you really be comfortable with this?" Rachel questions her, a smile tugging at the corner of her lips. She's not smiling because she has permission to punish one of the girls she loves and make them cry, it's the feeling of complete and utter trust and equality she gets from the latina's offer.

"Yeah. We need to talk to Quinn about it first but I trust you to do it, you've been over my lap enough times to know how it feels and I don't think I know anyone who is more full of compassion and understanding than you are. I hope I never give you a reason to but if I do then..do it" Santana murmurs, a slight blush spreading across her face, surprised when Rachel leans down and captures her lips in a passionate kiss, the action saying more than words possibly could in this moment. "Thank you" the latina whispers, her hand moving to cup the soft skin of her girlfriend's cheek, an almost goofy grin on her face. "I love you baby girl" she adds softly.

"I love you too" Rachel says with a tender smile.

"We should go look for Quinn" Santana states. "You just spent ages reassuring me and now it's my turn to reassure Quinn, to let her know that our relationship is okay and that I'm not freaking out about taking a break from the punishment..anymore" she explains.

"I think that's a good idea and then we can all talk about things and hopefully you and Quinn will learn to talk about how you're feeling before it all boils over in future" Rachel states as Santana gingerly rolls onto her back, wincing slightly as she pushes herself to her feet. The latina holds out her hand and helps her girlfriend to her feet, Rachel almost knocking the air from Santana's lungs as she throws her arms around her and hugs her tightly. "I'm so proud of you" the smaller girl murmers, full of pride at the latina's mature decision to deal with their problems, feeling that things have a decent shot at changing for the better.

Thank you for reading, I hope you liked it..please let me know if you did :)