Santana's family isn't a hugging family. Brittany's is.
It's not like no one ever gives hugs at the Lopez house, of course—they do when they drop Daddy at the airport before he flies out to medical conferences and sometimes when he comes back and they pick him up at the curb and for family pictures when the photographer tells them to scoot up tight against each other and at birthday parties and whenever someone doesn't feel well and just needs a squeeze to get better.
So they hug, just not all the time. Not often.
Brittany's family gives hugs all the time, though, even for little things, and sometimes for no reason at all.
Brittany and her sister hug their dad before bed and when they wake up in the morning and he goes to work and when he comes home from work and after dinner and before they brush their teeth at night. They hug their mom when she calls them to the kitchen for lunch—even if she fixes something weird, like tuna fish salad, which Brittany doesn't like—and when she gives them permission to take the cat outside with them to play in the backyard as long as they keep him on his leash and when she calls them sweethearts and when they pass her on the stairway while she's walking down and they're walking up, even if she has a full laundry basket in her arms and they have to hug her knees.
Since Santana's family isn't big on hugging, Santana didn't realize that hugging is something a person can get good at—like drawing or popping wheelies on a bike or multiplication tables—until she met Brittany.
Brittany is way good at hugging.
And why shouldn't she be? Her family kind of practices hugging all the time.
Brittany knows all about how to give a good hug: how to throw her arms up over Santana's shoulders, overlapping them behind her neck, and pull Santana in close so that their ribs fit together and Santana can feel Brittany all over her, holding her in like she's precious, a secret.
Since Brittany knows all about hugs, it sort of makes sense that Brittany would know all about kisses, too.
And Brittany says that this is when they should kiss.
Santana thinks they're getting too old to play pretend anymore—they're eleven and they aren't in middle school this year, but they will be next—but she can't quite bring herself to stop playing yet because it's still a lot of fun, even if games like this are for babies, like Brittany's sister, and not for older kids like them. Besides, Brittany's yard has a fence, so it's not like anybody will see them playing anyway. It can't hurt anything.
Except that now Brittany wants them to kiss.
They spent the last hour or so pretending that Brittany's swing set was a skyscraper and that some crazy bad guy trapped them inside it on the top floor with a ticking bomb and that they had to get out of the building before the bomb exploded.
(Brittany got the story from a movie her uncle let her watch when she visited him and her older cousins at their cabin.)
About fifteen minutes into the game, Brittany's little sister fell off the slide and went away crying—even though her knee was just pink, not even bleeding—so it was just Santana and Brittany for most of the time, which was okay by Santana, because things are always more fun when they're alone together anyway.
And this game was a lot of fun.
Even fun games have to end, though, which is why Santana kind of thought that they would stop playing once she saved Brittany from the bomb, pulling her from the building at the exact moment it blew to smithereens.
But Brittany says no, it isn't over.
"This is where we kiss."
As soon as Brittany says it, Santana feels funny, almost wobbly inside. Her heart speeds up. "What?"
Brittany seems very serious. "When I watched the movie, this is where the guy and the girl kissed."
"But BrittBritt, we're girls," Santana reminds her. "If we kissed, it would be weird."
Brittany shrugs. "It's only weird if you make it weird."
"You really want to kiss, Britt? Like on the lips?" Santana asks, squinting in the afternoon sunlight.
Brittany nods. "This is the part where we kiss," she repeats, searching Santana for something. "Trust me."
Usually, Santana trusts Brittany a lot. She trusts Brittany to help her catch up with homework whenever she gets strep throat and has to miss school. She trusts Brittany with a key to her house when she goes on vacation with her family so that Brittany can water her mom's plants and bring in their mail from the box. She trusts Brittany not to tell anyone that thunderstorms scare her so bad that she cries sometimes during the really loud ones, or what her middle name is, even though Brittany says it sounds pretty. She trusts Brittany to always be her best friend forever and to never go away.
But Santana isn't so sure about this kissing thing.
Santana has never kissed anyone on the lips before and somehow she has it in her head that that's something only teenagers—like Brittany's cousins and their boyfriends and girlfriends—and adults—like her mom and dad—do. She would never dream of kissing any of the boys at school. And she hasn't ever considered kissing Brittany until now.
But Brittany knows all about kissing.
Brittany smiles at Santana, not exactly a happy smile, but an interested one, like she's just figured something out. Brittany cocks her head to one side and squints against the brightness.
"If I trust you, can you trust me?" she asks.
Santana must stay silent for a bit too long, because the next thing she knows, Brittany turns away from her and starts walking back towards the house. "Come on, San," she says. She doesn't sound angry.
But the thing is.
"I'll kiss you, Britt."
Santana's voice sounds hoarse in her own ears. She still feels wobbly inside. But she trusts Brittany. And Brittany says that this is the part where they kiss.
When Brittany turns around, everything about her shines. She grins at Santana, bright as daylight, and looks like she wants to run over and catch Santana up in one of her perfect hugs. She doesn't, though. For a second, Brittany seems like she's figured something out again. Still smiling, she bounces over to Santana, practically skipping, stopping just in front of her.
"Okay, I'll close my eyes," she whispers, her voice sweet and happy.
Santana knows enough not to close her eyes until she reaches Brittany's lips, even though she has never done this before.
It isn't the longest kiss in the world or as flashy as kisses in the movies, but Santana thinks she likes it.
Brittany's lips shush against hers like a whisper and their noses bump together a little. They don't touch otherwise. Santana lets her hands hang slack in front of her. Brittany breathes out when she breathes in and Santana can't quite explain how, but she knows that Brittany is smiling.
Santana smiles, too.
Then, just like that, the kiss is over. Santana and Brittany open their eyes.
"See?" says Brittany, as though that proved something.
"Yeah," Santana says, breathless.