Disclaimer: I don't own Glee, or Dar Williams, or anything else mentioned in this fic.
A/N Odds are this will all be Jossed in a week, but... I just had to get my version of how this went down out there.
She's been listening to the playlist for months now.
And really, the only reason she made it in the first place was to drown out her own pathetic voice, endlessly echoing please say you love me back please say you love me back please say you love me back please. But now…
It's gotten her through a lot, is all. The stupid t-shirt fiasco and the stupid breakup with Artie that didn't change anything and the stupid hotel room they shared in New York and did nothing in. The song selections aren't even all that meaningful; she just picked catchy shit that would hopefully get stuck in her head so thoroughly she wouldn't have time to think about anything else.
It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Without fail, "As Cool As I Am" by Dar Williams is playing when she walks through the front doors and makes her way to her locker every morning. It's the kind of crap she'd never cop to listening to, if anyone asked, but then again she figures after performing the most countrified cover of "Landslide" basically ever—including the Dixie Chicks version—in front of everyone, her secret is kind of out.
(And yes, she's just as freaked out by people knowing she likes folk music as she is by the idea of people knowing she likes girls. She goes to high school in fucking Ohio, so just… leave it alone.)
It's just a good song, okay? The lyrics make her feel like maybe she can be someone else when she gets out of this hellhole, the boppy beat and stupid kazoos or whatever shit remind her of her best friend, and the idea of one day being able to look at a hot girl in a club and be able to shrug and say yeah, she's really blonde without feeling like she's going to die is just… really appealing.
(She looked Dar Williams up on Wikipedia, once. Apparently she married some dude she met in college, which is ridiculous because like every single one of her fucking songs is about what it feels like to figure out you're a lesbian… Or at least, that's what they sound like to Santana.
It's starting to get clearer that maybe she's just really shitty at reading people when it comes to that.)
Brittany's always hovering near her locker, in the mornings. Waiting. Santana doesn't know what she's waiting for; she's had her fill of emotional monologues, and it's Brittany's turn now. To make this… whatever it's going to be.
I will not be afraid of women, Dar reminds her.
She fucking wishes.
"I just don't know what the fuck I'm even doing anymore," she says, staring into her coffee. School's only been out for three days, and the summer already feels boring, awful, and impossibly long.
Quinn's gaze flickers towards the window, short hair falling into her eyes. "I'm hardly the best person to ask."
And it's fragile, this thing with Quinn. It's not really a friendship, not yet, but… they could both really use someone right now. And it's not like they've got a lot of options.
"Right," Santana laughs dryly. "You're not that into that."
"I wasn't—I meant relationships at all. It has nothing to do with how you're… whatever."
"Seriously, Q? You can't even say it?"
Quinn gives her a sharp look. "Don't pull that with me. Have you ever heard me say a word about Kurt? About Rachel's dads? About you? If it makes you uncomfortable, that's on you, not me. You're the one who didn't want a label, Santana; don't get pissed at me for trying to honor that."
Santana sighs. "Okay," she mumbles, which is as close to sorry as Quinn is going to get. For a moment, it's silent between them.
"You have to stop pushing away the people who are trying to help you," Quinn says quietly.
"And what makes you think I'm doing that?"
"Because it's all I ever do, and we're more alike than either of us would like to admit."
"We are not—" Santana protests, but shuts her mouth at Quinn's coolly raised eyebrow. "…Yeah. So, fine. What do you suggest I do?"
"I don't know. Maybe you should talk to Kurt and Blaine."
"Yes, because I'm dying to discuss my sex life with Tickle-Me-Gaymo and Bilbo Bagtag."
Quinn laughs, which is pretty awesome. Anyone else they know would ream her out for being bitchy about people who've been basically nothing but nice, but with Quinn… well. She's missed having someone who gets that—needing to be mean, just a little. Or a lot.
"Can you think of someone more appropriate?" Quinn asks, and Santana lazily raises one shoulder.
"If it's about sex, mostly I talk to Puck."
Santana smirks as Quinn kind of chokes on her latte. "Yes, that's a fantastic idea. Do you really want to talk about the feelings you have for your best friend with Puck?"
("No, turning to Puck when you're with someone else is your forte," Santana doesn't say, even though part of her wants to.) She shrugs again.
"Fine, so, Puck," Quinn sighs. "Let me put it this way. Remember how you dumped him over his credit score?"
"I almost broke up with Finn once because he got a C- in Chemistry for thinking the scientific method meant writing your lab reports in rhyme."
Santana laughs. "Oh my god, I forgot about that. I was totally the one who fed him that bullshit." She clears her throat at Quinn's murderous expression and gets back on track. "What's your point?"
"Last week, you spent ten minutes explaining to Brittany that the lunch lady wasn't a Communist because mayo goes on sandwiches and Mao was the chairman of China. And… it didn't even phase you. God help you, I think you found it cute."
Santana just groans and holds her head in her hands, then nods pathetically.
"I've never experienced tolerance for someone's faults like that… ever. And I think Brittany deserves someone who loves her for being who she is."
"That's not the point, Quinn. Fuck, you think I don't know that? I tried. I tried, and she shot me down."
"So try again. Keep trying."
"It's not that fucking simple."
Quinn's eyes flash. Santana's seen Quinn get all scary too many times to actually be scared by it, but it does get her attention. "You're a better athlete than me. Everyone knows it. But no matter how many times you tried and snatch it from me, you could never hold onto the Cheerios captaincy. You want to know why?"
"Um, because Coach Sylvester gets off on the fact that you apparently remind her of a young her, and is jealous of my awesome tits?"
"Because I don't take no for an answer."
"And that worked out so well for you with Finn, when he dumped you at a funeral and you tried to tell him it's cool he's totally into Rachel, you can work around it," Santana snaps, because she's tired of acting like she's the only fuck-up in this conversation. "Sometimes no means no, Quinn. But I guess you wouldn't know, considering—"
The scrape of Quinn's chair as she gets up and walks away drowns out the rest.
So yeah. They're still fragile, her and Quinn.
Q stops answering her calls after that, so she's basically got two options: she can go frolic down the rainbow trail with her new besties Bert and Ernie Warbler, or she can talk about sex with Puck.
Yeah, she's not surprised at her choice, either.
"If I don't get off soon, I'm going to die," she announces unceremoniously the second he opens his front door.
"Shit, Santana," he hisses, "could you be any louder? My little sister is like right there."
"Hi, Becca!" Santana sing-songs, sticking her head inside and waving into the living room.
"Mom says you're a bad influence," Becca croons back, voice equally saccharine-sweet, and Santana frowns.
"When'd she turn into such a bitch?"
"Puberty, just like you," Puck says, rolling his eyes, then grabs her by the wrist and leads her up to his bedroom. "And before you ask, I'm not having sex with you."
She hadn't particularly wanted to, before he brought it up, but she's never been one to back down from a challenge. "Why the fuck not? I'm horny, you're bored. Just another Tuesday in Lima."
"It's different now and you know it," he mutters. She spreads herself out on his bed pretty much the second he's got the door closed, and he shakes his head. "Give it up, Lopez."
"I'm trying to," she snaps back, watching as he sits himself at his desk chair and starts fooling around with his guitar as if she's not offering to blow his mind right now. (Or his dick, but, like—whatever, same thing.) "Did you not hear the part where I said if I don't get off soon, I'll die?"
"Since when is that my problem?"
"Since when isn't that your problem?"
"I'm dating Lauren now; I'm not your frickin' fuck-muppet."
"You'd seriously rather neuter yourself over Zizes than tap this?" she asks, waving a hand down her body.
He raises an eyebrow. "You'd seriously rather tap this than actually go after Brittany like you want?"
God, is it fucking written on her forehead or something? "Oh, bite me, Dr. Phil."
"Doesn't matter how you phrase it, babe, I'm still not gonna fuck you," he chuckles, ignoring her glare. "And you know that, which is why you're here. You could be with any guy in Lima, but instead you're at Casa Puckerman, cuz you know I'll say no."
"I'm not dealing with this shit," she spits, getting up off of his bed and storming down the stairs.
She's all the way to the front hall before Becca's voice stops her in her tracks. "You know, before he opened the door, Noah bet me ten bucks you'd throw a hissy fit and leave."
It takes a second for that to sink in.
"Asshole," she gripes, spinning on her heel, and she's marching back up to the second floor before she can stop herself.
(So yeah, maybe Becca's not a complete brat.)
He looks up from his guitar long enough to smirk at her when she walks back into his room. She flops onto his bed face-first, and briefly entertains the notion of just staying there until she suffocates.
"I just don't get it," she grumbles into his comforter. "You're right. I could be with any guy in Lima right now. So what the fuck am I doing?"
"Fuck if I know. But whatever. You feel how you feel."
"Maybe I don't want to."
"Since when does that matter?"
Reluctantly, she pulls herself up and leans back to sit against his headboard, chucking a pillow at his head when he makes no move to join her. Puck rolls his eyes, but puts his guitar away and goes to sit on the bed.
"C'mon. Tell Papa Puck all about it."
"You're the one in my bed."
"Against my better judgment."
"You were the one who was all If I don't get off soon, I'll die."
"Because it's true. I haven't been with anyone since her."
"Shit. But that was…" She can tell he's counting off the months in his head. "Wait. You dated Sam for like—"
She scoffs. "Are you kidding me? God. It'd be like having sex with the giant lips at the beginning of Rocky Horror."
"What about Karofsky?" he asks, in his best you're-full-of-shit voice.
"We're… taking it slow."
He actually laughs at her, which is just fucking… rude. "You can tell that lie as long as you want, babe; no one—and I mean no one—buys it."
"Brittany bought it."
"Brittany's stupid for you."
"Don't call her that—"
"Calm your tits, woman. I'm not saying she's dumb; I'm saying she's just as crazy about you as you are about her."
"She has a funny way of showing it."
"Oh, for fuck's sake. Do I really have to spell this shit out for you? Look. Dudes are into you because you're hot as hell and you're exotic or whatever. Like. Why bag Cameron Diaz when you could have Uma Thurman?"
"Uma Thurman is not exotic, dipshit, she was born in Boston. Can't I be, like, a Kardashian at least? Or ?"
He ignores her. "Look, my point is, that may be why dudes are into you, but that's not why Britt's into you. Y'know?"
"But clearly she's not, or we'd be together."
"Yeah, if you actually think Brittany's not into you, you are seriously stupid."
"Last time I tried to talk to her about this, she friend zoned me so fast I got whiplash."
"Big fuckin' deal! Get over it! No one's enjoying the Woe Is Santana pity party, okay? Stop acting like you have no idea why Brittany's being the way she is. You know her. A hell of a lot better than I do. And you're asking me for advice on how to start a relationship with her? Fuck, S, you wouldn't even let me touch her when we tried to have a threesome freshman year."
"That's my point. I tried, and you shut it down because she's always been yours. Back then, it wasn't supposed to be about feelings, and now it is, but you don't feel any different and that scares the crap out of you. Deal or don't, but quit whining."
She blows her hair out of her eyes. "Since when are you so wise?" she asks bitterly.
He shrugs, completely disregarding her tone. "Rachel says I'm growing as a person."
Santana snorts. "Does she think erections count, or something?"
"Oh Noah," she imitates, batting her eyelashes, "You're growing as a person."
"Dude, I'm with Lauren, okay?"
"So? Like that means you haven't thought about popping Berry's cherry."
He leers. "Have you?"
"Oh, fuck you, Puck."
"S'not a no."
"I hate you."
"Whatever," he says, rolling his eyes.
They've been out of school for two weeks, and she's gotten exactly nowhere.
It's not that she and Brittany don't see each other. They do. They're both working as lifeguards at the community pool; they hang out all the time. They talk.
It's just that they don't really say anything.
Or at least, she doesn't. Brittany tries, but… well. As much as she hates to admit it, Puck's probably right. If they're in the friend zone, it's only because she's too fucking chicken to take them out of it. It's hard not to realize it, when sometimes out of nowhere Britt'll say things like "I miss you," when they're just sitting around in their deck chairs.
"You see me practically every day."
"No, I know, but… I miss you."
"Britts, I'm right here."
And then she'll give one of her mysterious smiles, like she always does when she thinks Santana's being really dumb. "No, you're not. Not really. But it's cool. I'll wait."
To which Santana always "What's that supposed to mean?" as if she doesn't already know. And there goes Dar Williams again in her head, I want somebody who sees me, and Britt does, and—
God, she's just not ready for this.
"I must say, I'm intrigued, but… I'm not exactly sure what you're asking me for, Santana."
(Okay, yes. God help her, she's actually in dire enough straits that she decided to interrupt Kurt and Blaine's sacred standing Lima Bean date. Desperate times call for desperate measures; leave her alone.)
"Fuck if I know," she shrugs, staring into her coffee. "I just think that things might be a little easier if I could… like…"
"Be a little less Gloria Estefan and a little more Gloria Steinem?"
"… I don't know who that is, but sure."
"And you call yourself a lesbian?" Kurt asks, eye twitching.
"I don't call myself anything, you pomp—"
"Hey, it's no big deal," Blaine interrupts nervously, before placing both of his hands over Santana's on the table. He probably means for it to be reassuring, but it mostly feels sanctimonious as fuck. "I used to confuse Gloria Steinem with Gertrude Stein, so, like—it's really no big deal."
"I don't know why I associate with either of you," Kurt snits, and Santana is seriously like this close to leaving when Blaine starts to laugh.
"I know, I know; only Rachel understands you, your life is an endless tragedy," he teases. "You're cute when you're pretentious." And she doesn't want to give a crap about any of this, but the look they share between them has her so fucking jealous that she just…
"Look, apparently I can't be with Brittany until I actually figure myself out, so can we just, like—focus, please?"
"… I think that's the first time I've ever heard you ask nicely for anything," Kurt says, eyes widening slightly. "And I want to help you, Santana—really I do. But I'm a little out of my depth here."
"Why don't you come over on Thursday?" Blaine suggests, looking to Kurt for confirmation; Kurt pulls a bit of a face but then nods.
Santana raises an eyebrow at their stupid we-have-conversations-without-speaking couples antics. "What's on Thursday?"
"We've been working on a little… immersion project," Kurt explains. "With Dad and Finn, to make them more familiar with gay culture."
"Meaning… what? You make out in front of them a lot?"
Kurt turns bright red, and Blaine chuckles. "More like movie nights. We started last week. Mr. Hummel requested Brokeback Mountain, because he was…" Blaine stops and clears his throat, "unclear about certain… plot points. But it was maybe a bit overwhelming, so now we're easing back. A few romcoms from the 90s, you know. Lighter stuff."
"They're not exactly up to date on political correctness, but… baby steps," Kurt finishes. "If you can be civil, you're welcome to join us."
Which is how she ends up spending her Thursday night at the Hudson-Hummel house, trapped on the couch between Finn and Kurt's dad watching a double feature of In & Out and The Birdcage.
She's so screwed if anyone finds out about this.
Once, when she's wasting time at the mall after work, she happens to see Tina, Mike and Wheels in the food court. Like, together. Hanging out, all three of them.
She's pretty sure they don't see her, but, like… what the hell? Her first instinct is pure rage, because what, Professor X can't have Brittany so now he's trying to get back with his old girl? Tina and Mike are happy, and that shit is not gonna fly when—
But then Mike says something that has Artie genuinely laughing, and it hits her that… they're over it. (Everyone's always over it but her.) And it's fucking weird, and no one can say it's not, but it's also… nice? And it kind of gives her hope that— that—
Well, you know. Whatever.
The last thing she expects is for Dave Karofsky to show up at her front door midway through July.
"I came out to my parents," he says without preamble, and she has to fucking rush him inside before someone hears him or some shit.
"I'm sorry, you fucking—what?"
"I came out to my parents. And they're, like. Fine with it."
"What do you want me to say, Dave? Mazel tov?"
"No, I just—look. One of the conditions for Kurt coming back was starting up that PFLAG chapter, and, like… I dunno. My parents seemed kind of into it. So I finally manned up and told them."
"That's nice, I'm fascinated, but what the hell does any of this have to do with me?"
"Um, you're my friend and you should be happy for me, or whatever?"
"If that were all you wanted, you'd have sent a text. You're onto something; you're scheming."
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Please, you think I don't know what it looks like when you're scheming? It's way hotter on me than on you. What's your angle, Karofsky?"
"There's no angle, I was just thinking that maybe… y'know… shit. I'm happy, Santana. You get me? And maybe…"
He trails off, and then everything gets really clear.
"… No. Oh, no. Not gonna happen."
"You'd be surprised how—"
"I know you and Brittany are friends, mija, but have you ever thought about how it looks?" she quotes, in a perfect imitation of her mother. "We can't have people getting the wrong impression."
"Okay, so not your parents. But even just the glee club could, like… I dunno."
"You're fucking hilarious, Dave."
"Why are you even acting like this is such a big secret? Everyone in school already knows about you and Brittany."
"They don't know shit about me and Brittany. As far as they're concerned, we put on a show so that guys on the team will think we're sexy. Making out at parties doesn't mean I'm a… that we're… My point is, even Quinn does that shit, or used to, anyway. Doesn't mean she's into that."
"But you are," he says, voice unexpectedly gentle, and she clenches her hands into fists. "God, don't you know how lucky you are to have someone? And not even that, you love her. I don't even like Hummel. He was just… my only option."
"Nice to know you consider sexual assault an option."
"Nice to know you consider convincing your best friend that it's okay to cheat on her boyfriend an option."
"Shut up; I don't do that shit anymore."
"And neither do I, so get off your fucking high horse."
"Look, I may not be perfect, but at least I never bullied anyone so badly they had to fucking transfer schools. I'm glad you're all out and proud now, or whatever, but that doesn't undo what you did to Kurt. Taking your shit out on him just because he was brave enough to say what you couldn't." (File under: things she would never, ever say to Hummel to his face, but, like… yeah, she cares. Of course she cares.) "That was messed up."
"And it's somehow less messed up to sleep with half the guys in school to convince yourself and everyone else that you like cock?"
Um, yeah, she thinks, by a long shot, but she really doesn't want to be fighting with him right now. They stare each other down for a long moment before she sighs and collapses on the couch. "You're a lousy lay, by the way."
"You'll forgive me if my heart wasn't in it," he says with a derisive snort, and—shit. It may have started out as a convenient arrangement, but when he's not petrified of what everyone thinks of him, Dave's actually… a pretty cool kid. Smarter and funnier than he pretends to be. "Besides, we were—what? Fifteen?"
"That's no excuse; Puck was fucking awesome at fifteen." The tips of Dave's ears go scarlet, and Santana bursts out laughing. "No way. Puck?"
"Shut up, Santana."
"What was it? The mohawk? His guns? Oh, but wait, you shower together—was it the size of his—"
"Shut up, Santana!" he shouts, fist flying out and slamming against the wall, nearly knocking down a picture frame. She tries to pretend it didn't make her jump, which is pointless, as he's staring resolutely at his shoes, breathing deeply. "… Sorry. Shit, sorry. That was stupid."
"No duh, Captain Testosterone."
He moves to cradle his fist in his other hand, leaning heavily against her wall. "I wish I didn't have such a bad temper."
"And I wish Brittany would stop making me talk to her cat on his cell phone. We all have our crosses to bear."
His eyes flicker back up at her, and he sort of smiles. "You know, it's funny. I came over here to talk about how happy I am for once, and I end up punching the wall. God, you piss me off. How do you even do that?"
"It's a talent."
He looks back down at his sneakers, scuffing a foot against her carpet. "… Breadstix?"
"I'll get my keys."
Two months gone, and nothing to show for it. The only thing that's changed between then and now is that now she knows Mr. Hummel's favorite brand of microwavable popcorn, and sometimes she has dreams where Kevin Kline has replaced Mr. Schuester as the glee club director.
Quinn stopped texting her back weeks ago, and, like, whatever. If she wants to drop off the face of the Earth, that's her call; Santana's got too much other shit going on to chase after her. People to see, things to do, sexual identity to sort out. Thing is, she's kind of only got one option left.
On the bright side, the little squeak Rachel lets out when she sees just who it is standing on her stoop is nothing short of fucking hilarious.
"Hi. Look, are your dads home, or something?"
"Not at the moment. Daddy's at work, and Dad is in Atlanta for a business conference. Is there something I can help you with?"
… Why the fuck not? She's talked to everyone else in this godforsaken town.
"Sure," she shrugs, trying to seem nonchalant.
"Would you like to come in?"
"I'm good out here."
Rachel rolls her eyes, but obediently steps out onto the porch and closes the door behind her; Santana does her best not to sigh in relief.
(It's not that she doesn't like Rachel's house, or whatever—it's actually really nice in there. Which is sort of the problem. Standing in their foyer, surrounded by all of those pictures of Rachel actually grinning for the camera, instead of giving her fake-ass showbiz smile… Just walking through to get to the basement door was like the guiltiest Santana's ever felt in her life. She doesn't need that right now.)
Rachel clears her throat. "Not that my fathers wouldn't be happy to meet with you, but… why are you here?"
"Really? No guesses?" Santana snarks, eyebrow raised—mostly because she can't think of a way to put Sherlock Homo into a sentence without it sounding lame.
"I'm trying to be accommodating, here. I know you've been going to movie nights at Finn's, Santana. Also I've met you."
"They told you about—?"
She huffs. "First of all, probably half the dvds you watch are mine. Secondly, I had to stop attending because you started, and Kurt didn't want to—and I quote—'scare off the baby gay.'"
"That little—" Santana starts, but Rachel cuts her off.
"This may come as a shock, but—despite my reputation, I'm a pretty good listener, you know. If you wanted to… talk."
"Honestly? I don't. I'm fucking sick of it. I talk to Quinn, I talk to Puck, I talk to Kurt, I talk to Blaine, I talk to friggin'—" She cuts herself off quickly, before she can say something she'll regret.
Rachel bites her lip thoughtfully. "You know, there's someone missing on that list."
"I know, Berry; your out-and-proud dads, whatever, that's why I'm here."
"No, I don't mean—Santana. You've spent all summer talking to all of these people about Brittany, but have you tried just… talking to Brittany?"
"Oh, what a brilliant idea, Lollipop Guild; golly, why didn't I think of that? I'll just tell her how I feel! Oh wait. I did. And she shot me down."
"Santana, that was months ago. And you're still thinking about it. Don't you think maybe she is too?"
"Well, yeah, but—"
"And don't pretend like you didn't shoot her down, too."
Santana freezes. "I don't know what you're talking about."
"You're the one who pulled a Berger with a text that just said I can't."
"You watch Fondue for Two?" Santana asks incredulously. "Wait, hold on—you watch Sex and the City?"
"Focus, please. And for the record: as an aspiring artist, I recognize the importance of supporting the net presence of others. Why wouldn't I watch Fondue for Two?"
"Um, because that show is on crack and you don't give a shit about Brittany?"
"I 'give a shit' about everyone, Santana. Do you really think I'd be talking to you right now if I didn't?"
"You didn't deny that the show's a hot mess," she grumbles after a second, mostly to have something to say, and Rachel smirks.
"I'm not in the habit of telling blatant lies. And as an animal rights activist, I have some serious concerns about the health of that cat. I know she thinks she's being nice, but that diet is abusive."
"Oh my god, you cannot say that to her. She gets upset at the animal violence in Angry Birds, for fuck's sake."
"If PETA found her YouTube channel—"
"—She'd call me and ask why she'd received a cease and desist letter from bread."
They both sort of chuckle at that, and then descend into an awkward silence.
"…What if she rejects me again?"
"Then she rejects you again. And maybe you get your heart broken. But then, at least, you're sure. You know you gave it everything."
"And then you can move on?"
"That's generally how it's worked for me, yes."
"I suppose you'd know," Santana mutters, unable to stop herself. "No one's gotten rejected more than you."
She honestly didn't mean for that to come out like it did, but to her surprise, Rachel only smiles sadly. "And I'm still standing, aren't I?"
Santana shrugs. "Hard to tell. Most of the time I pretend you're shuffling around everywhere on your knees, because it's the only way your height makes sense."
"With charm like that, I'm honestly shocked that Brittany doesn't seem interested in spending more time with you."
"She bites!" Santana hoots, legitimately delighted.
"Just because I'm not as rude as you are doesn't mean I'm not capable of defending myself."
"Oh, don't give me that. Once you told me I was destined to work a stripper pole the rest of my life."
"I was provoked."
"Yeah? They teach you etiquette like that in the Shire?"
Rachel snorts. "It's remarkable, how adept you are at deflection."
"And anyway, you should have used Pippin. It's both a musical and the name of a hobbit. Honestly, Santana, if you're not even going to try…"
She stares a moment, then laughs. "You're totally yanking my chain, aren't you?"
"You're a bit of an easy mark, right now. Probably because your mind is elsewhere."
She sighs, and runs a hand through her hair. "Yeah. I don't know, I'm just so…"
"Santana, what do you want?"
"I want Brittany," she says, without even having to think about it. "She's… that's all I've ever wanted."
"So go get her. It actually is exactly that simple. The only person complicating it is you."
Santana shakes her head. "You know, it's funny. Quinn told me pretty much the exact same thing." Back when she was talking to me, anyway, she doesn't add.
Rachel does this weird kind of half-smile. "Quinn and I actually see eye to eye fairly often, when it's not about things we both want."
"Get real, Pintsize. The only person you see eye to eye with is—"
"Okay, seriously, are you done?"
"—the late Gary Coleman. … Yeah, I think I'm done."
"That joke was in extremely poor taste."
"Oh, whatever. If Avenue Q can make Gary Coleman jokes, so can I."
"You're familiar with Avenue Q?" Rachel asks, eyes going wide.
"Berry, fricking everyone is familiar with Avenue Q. Just because your boyfriend is a culturally bankrupt Cro-Magnon doesn't mean the rest of us are."
"Must you bring Finn into this? This conversation has been downright civil; let's not ruin it."
"Look, all I'm saying is that… what's the song? There's a fine, fine line between love and a waste of your time?"
"Okay I get it, you don't like Finn, can we please—" Rachel sighs, exasperated, then it seems to click. "Oh, you meant…"
"Yeah. I meant."
Rachel bites her lip, and stares at a crack in the sidewalk. "Do you remember The Little Prince?"
"Never read it."
"It was required curriculum reading in eighth grade."
"And? What's your point?"
It looks like Rachel's struggling not to laugh at that, which is kind of cool. "There's a line… okay, well, first, it's about this boy, a prince, who rules over a small planet. And on that planet, he takes care of a rose, who happens to be a bit overdramatic and thrives on attention."
"Please save your insults for after the story. Anyway, he leaves his planet and his rose behind, goes on a journey and meets lots of interesting people, one of whom is a fox he must tame. In doing so, he learns that we are all special through the connections we make. A fox may seem identical to any one of a thousand other foxes, or a rose to any other rose, but by spending time with one another, we learn how truly unique we are. The fox tells the prince, it is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important. She may not be perfect, but she's his. And that could never, ever be a waste of time; not really. Because that's the point."
They sit in the quiet for a minute, the silence no longer quite so awkward, as that sinks in.
"… You know, Berry, you're not half bad."
"And, what?" Rachel wonders, rolling her eyes. "Considering my diminutive stature, that means I'm still lagging behind?"
"No, I—fuck. I'm actually trying to compliment you, here."
"So, um. Yeah. Thanks, Yente."
"Yente is the busybody matchmaker from Fiddler on the Roof. Yentl is the titular hero of the film starring Barbra Streisand to which I assume you were referring. I can see how you could confuse them, but they're very different characters."
Santana only smiles. "Matchmaker, huh? Who knows. Maybe I was right the first time."
"Maybe," Rachel says, smiling back.
And, like. Fuck it. It's the best she's felt in weeks, actually.
The funny thing is, she can't even really explain what's changed. All she knows is that it all kind of hits her at once as they're leaving work the next day, and Brittany's ahead of her, walking to her car, and she just—she's just so done with watching her walk away and not giving chase.
I will not be afraid of women, she resolves.
"Hey, wait," she calls, jogging a little to catch up, but she still stops a few feet away as Brittany pauses and turns around.
"Yeah, San?" she asks, something suspiciously like hope hiding in her blue eyes, and… fuck it.
"I miss you, too. All the time. Which is stupid, because I'm the one who went away in the first place. And I tried to blame you, and say that you left me, but you didn't, I did, and—I am so sick of not touching you, B."
"So do it."
Santana can't help it; it's pure instinct that has her craning her neck, checking the parking lot for eavesdroppers. Brittany rolls her eyes a little, then jerks her chin towards her car. "No, I mean. C'mere." When Santana still doesn't move, she smiles kindly. "You can have shotgun."
Unable to stop herself from chuckling, Santana squares her shoulders and gets into the car. Brittany follows, folding her long legs into her tiny-ass sedan in a way that no human should be able to make look graceful. Only then she turns to her right, looking all expectant, and Santana's mouth goes dry.
"Put on your seatbelt."
"But we're not going anywhere."
"It's the law, Santana. Click it or ticket."
She sighs, then reaches behind her to pull on the seatbelt. She could make an argument, but… what would be the point? "There. Happy?"
"Because, like. If you miss me like I miss you, what are we even doing?"
"I don't know," Santana whispers.
"So… can we stop?" She reaches out, resting her open hand atop the gear shift, and Santana sort of stares at it. Unbidden, a memory pops into her head: I'll ask you out to prom, and I'll tell you how I feel, and… all you have to do is say yes.
Brittany will always meet her halfway.
But she has to move, first.
Suddenly the center console is digging uncomfortably into her hip and her seatbelt is practically cutting her arm off at the shoulder as she strains to rest her palm on top of Brittany's while they kiss. She can't even tell who leaned forward first, but it doesn't matter, because god, she hasn't felt like this for—it—
She's spent months and months missing this, but just how good it feels—how right it feels—still takes her by surprise.
"I am so stupid," she mumbles against Brittany's lips after several long moments, reluctant to pull away. She'd be more than happy to just sit here and make out in the car all afternoon, but the point was to actually talk about this, and if they keep kissing any longer that's just never going to happen.
Britt leans back, forcing her to open her eyes. "Well, that's why you have me, though. And you know you do, right? You totally have me. I said I'd wait and I did."
"Or… I will." she modifies, catching onto Santana's hesitance.
"Sorry. Fuck. No, I—Britt, I want to be with you."
Brittany looks at her uneasily. "But?"
That fucking stings, but she knows she deserves it. "But I don't know how. I'm not ready to be, like… Facebook official, or whatever."
"Why do you always start these conversations by listing all of the stuff you can't do?" Brittany asks her, eyes soft and voice almost teasing, and, like—well, shit. Good question.
"I'm just… scared."
"I know," Brittany says, turning their hands and running her thumb back and forth across Santana's knuckles. "But that's okay. It'll be like… remember in ninth grade, when Coach made us all get those shots? And I was really scared, because I don't like needles, but you said it would be okay, because—"
"—I would be holding your hand," Santana finishes for her weakly.
"Yeah. And, like, I know that you feel bad because we can't kiss everywhere like you want to, and people don't get us and say mean things, but—it'll be okay. Because even if I can't actually do it in front of people, I'll be holding your hand, y'know? Like, metaphysically."
"You mean metaphorically."
"Do I? Um. Which is the one where, like, my soul is hugging your soul?"
"… Metaphysically; you were right the first time."
"See? I'm totally smarter than you," Brittany giggles, with fake haughtiness, and Santana laughs. "So… are you ready to stop running now?" she asks, and Santana can't help but smile a little bit at the way she's clearly trying hard not to roll her eyes.
"Yeah," she says, entwining their fingers. "Yeah, I'm ready."