A/N: Finally updated again. Haven't given up on this or the other one I promise :) would love to hear your feedback if you have any, here or on tumblr ebony-jaynefic . tumblr . com
This one is a bit fluffier than the others...I needed a little break from the angst.
Santana stood stunned for several long moments, until Marley pulled back a little to look at her.
"Are you ok Tana?" she asked carefully.
"Yeah. I'm just surprised is all," Santana told her. "Hi," she said, shaking herself out of her shock a little and dropping into a crouch. Marley leaned into her arms and let herself be held by her big sister.
"I missed you Tana," Marley whispered loudly, holding on tight. "I missed you bigger than the moon!" The innocent sentiment made Santana smile a little.
"I missed you too," Santana whispered back thickly, holding Marley tighter still. "So, so much."
"Santana," the soft, familiar, accented voice made Santana stiffen abruptly and she lost her balance, falling back onto her ass, accidently tugging Marley down with her. The little girl giggled and squirmed as Santana stared up at the woman in front of her.
"Abuela," she breathed, stunned.
"She brought me to see you," Marley piped up from where she was squished unceremoniously against Santana's chest, the result of her tightening her arms in shock.
"Get up off the floor Santana," Rosa Lopez ordered gently and Santana sprung to her feet obediently, setting Marley on the floor as she did. She stood ramrod straight in front of her grandmother, eyes trained on the floor between them. If she hadn't been so terrified of how her Abuela would react she would have reached back for Brittany's hand. She could feel that Brittany had moved right in behind her, supporting her and Rachel was next to her Abuela, looking ready to intervene if needed. "Santana look at me," Rosa ordered. Santana's eyes flickered up and back down again. She was absolutely petrified, her ramrod posture giving way to a cower as she made herself as tiny as she could, terrified of what her Abuela wanted from her. "Santana," her Rosa's voice suddenly softened. She slowly reached toward Santana who cowered further away, unable to help letting out a frightened squeak. She cursed herself internally for being so weak in front of her Abuela.
"Tana, how come you're afraid of Abuela?" Marley asked, suddenly sounding a little upset.
"Brittany, Rachel, please take Marley away to play," Rosa had her usual gruff tone back now.
"Yes Ma'am," Santana heard Brittany's voice shake a little as she reached for Marley and led her out of the room, looking back nervously at Santana as they left.
"Santana," Rosa softened her voice a little but didn't reach for her granddaughter again. "Listen to me Santana. I love you. I always loved you. What your Mami and your Papi did was wrong, ok?" she stepped forward and Santana whimpered helplessly as her terror and anxiety rose, stumbling backwards and tripping over her feet. She almost fell but Leroy, who had come in from the living room where he had been waiting with her Abuela and Rachel, caught her under her arms and steadied her. He quickly took his hands away once she was steady again, which Santana was grateful for, she couldn't really handle being handled right now.
"Santana," he spoke gently, his voice penetrating her panicked haze.
"Leroy?" she spluttered out desperately, feeling her breathing getting more difficult as the panic set in.
"Santana come and sit down. Your Abuela just wants to talk. How about we go and sit down and just listen to her ok? Just breathe and listen," Leroy spoke calmly and soothingly and Santana was surprised to feel her panic subside a tiny bit at his reassurance.
"I'll go sit," Rosa told them before heading into the living room and taking a seat, allowing Santana some much needed space to deal with her panic.
"Leroy," Santana whimpered again.
"What can I do?" he asked.
"Stay?" Santana pleaded desperately. She needed someone to hold her hand and help her through this. She was afraid of what her Abuela was going to say to her. She didn't want to be told she wasn't loved again. She couldn't cope with that.
"Of course, honey. Of course," he reassured her. "Let's go," he reached out, waiting for her to take his hand. She grabbed it gratefully and let Leroy lead her into the living room and sit her on the couch opposite where her Abuela sat on the recliner which she had apparently moved. Santana gripped Leroy's hand as tightly as she could, distantly worried that she might be hurting him, but needing to make sure he didn't leave her alone.
Rosa watched as Leroy led her granddaughter to the couch and sat her down. As much as she disagreed with Santana's lifestyle, it made her heart ache to see her granddaughter in so much distress. She gave her a moment to settle before she began speaking gently.
"Santana, I was harsh on you when you were growing up. The same way I was harsh on your Father and your uncles. It was how I saw fit to raise children. I don't apologise for that. I hit you to discipline you when you were out of line. I don't apologise for that either. But I don't believe it is ok to beat a child. I don't agree with what your parents did to you. I believe you are living in sin and I pray for you every day that you will change your ways. It is very hard for me to deal with Santana. My friends all pity me and judge me because my Granddaughter brings shame on my family," Rosa paused and cringed when Santana whimpered again, fat tears rolling down her cheeks. "But I am torn. I am torn because I love you very much. And even if you are living in sin I want you to be happy. That's why I kept your secret for so long," Rosa confessed. Santana's head snapped up. "I saw you, Santana. I saw her kiss you," Rosa swallowed hard. She had spent so many sleepless nights agonising over what to do after seeing Santana and Brittany together. At first she had wanted to rip them apart and drag Santana somewhere where she could straighten her out so to speak. But then before she could react she had seen Santana's face; totally unguarded and happier than she had ever seen it look before.
"You knew?" Santana asked faintly.
"I did," Rosa nodded. "I didn't know what to do. I spoke to Father Fernandez-."
"Fuck me," Santana groaned.
"Santana!" Rosa snapped and Leroy gasped at the same time. The two adults looked at each other and laughed, and some of the tension in the room lifted. Even Santana managed a tiny smile and her tense posture relaxed a tiny bit.
"I spoke to him. He was very surprising," Rosa continued. "He said we have to realise that other people may not share our views. That they choose to live differently to us and that we don't have to agree with their lifestyle but we should respect that that's how they choose to live and let them be. I'll worry about your soul and I'll pray for it every day Santana. But if you choose to be with Brittany then…I will respect that it is your choice to make. And I'll bring Marley to play sometimes," Rosa finished.
"Abuela," Santana breathed.
"I have something for you," Rosa reached into her handbag and pulled out an envelope, handing it to Santana. "Open it," she encouraged when Santana hesitantly took it but just looked at it. Santana gasped and looked up at her when she saw the contents. "It isn't much, but it's something. And I want you to have it," she told her, her tone leaving no room for argument.
"Abuela," her voice was stronger this time and it made Rosa smile to hear it. "Thank you."
"You're welcome Santana," Rosa replied.
"Can you come play now Tana?!" Marley interrupted the conversation by loudly asking her question.
After an hour or so of playing in the Berry's back yard Marley started to get tired and asked to go home. Santana hadn't felt as happy as she had spending time playing with her sister in so long.
"Can I come see you again Tana?" Marley asked as Santana lovingly tied her shoelaces and tidied up her hair for her.
"Sure you can. If Abuela says it's ok," Santana told her, running her hand over her hair one last time.
"Abuela says that I can't tell Mami and Papi that we saw you," Marley told Santana. "She says it's our special secret because Mami and Papi aren't being very nice to you."
"Oh," Santana replied neutrally, unsure of how else to respond.
"I saw Papi hurt you Tana. And I saw Cash hurt Papi. It made me scared. I wish you would come home Tana. It's scary at home without you," Marley's face was troubled and Santana felt a lump rise in her throat and a heavy weight settle in the pit of her stomach. Her parents wouldn't do anything to Marley, would they? "Your face is still hurt," the little girl observed, stroking her sister's cheeks with both of her little hands. She leaned in and pressed a sloppy kiss to Santana's still healing lips, smiling in satisfaction as she pulled back. "Does it feel better now?" she asked in the innocent way that only a child could. Santana's heart ached and she nodded, swallowing hard.
"Much, much better. Thank you Marley," she said softly.
"I love you Tana," Marley beamed.
"I love you too Marley," Santana replied, pulling her into a hug. Marley let Santana hug her for a minute before wriggling out of her arms.
"Abuela is it time to go now?" Marley hollered, causing Santana to flinch back from the sudden noise.
"In a minute," came the gruff reply. Santana looked up and her stomach dropped again at the sight of her Abuela holding Brittany by her upper arms, both of them with very serious looks on their faces as her Abuela spoke. Santana stood up and fidgeted nervously until Brittany was released about thirty seconds later and she darted over to stand beside Santana, still looking serious and just a little troubled. "Santana," Rosa came over and stood in front of Santana, causing her fidgeting to increase and her breathing to speed up. She was still terrified that her Abuela would take it all back, that she would tell her that this had all been a cruel joke designed to kick her while she was down. "Santana," Santana snapped back to the present, having zoned out as her negative thoughts played out in her head. "I love you," Rosa stressed. She reached out very, very slowly and Santana's previously wringing hands stopped abruptly as she froze in place. Santana flinched a little as slightly calloused fingertips stroked very gently over the skin of the back of her hand. "I do," Rosa reassured her, tucking her fingers slightly under Santana's palm and giving the gentlest squeeze. Santana nodded, her throat feeling too tight to answer. Her Abuela's hand dropped away from hers and she took a few steps back. "Bye," Santana was a little shocked to hear the hitch in her voice in that single word.
"Bye Abuela," she whispered back.
"Bye Tana! Bye Britt! Bye Rachel!" Marley almost shouted in her excitement to get home.
"Bye baby," Santana managed to reply, Brittany and Rachel echoing her moments later. Once her family was gone Santana let out her breath in a loud whoosh, suddenly exhausted from what had been a very emotional day.
"Are you ok?" Brittany asked, putting an arm around her and hugging her against her side as they headed inside.
"Yeah," Santana smiled tiredly. "I think- I just need to lay down a while."
"Ok," Brittany leaned in to press a kiss to her temple as they got to the door.
"Will you stay here 'til I wake up?" Santana asked her, desperately needing to know that Brittany would be near if she needed her.
"Of course," Brittany replied. "Rach and I could hang out? Right?" she asked Rachel, who was watching them with a slightly awe-filled expression.
"Sure. We could watch a movie?" she suggested.
"A normal movie?" Brittany asked sceptically.
"Yes Brittany," Rachel replied, voice slightly haughty, expression put out. It made Santana let out a short, quiet giggle. The other two quickly turned to look at her, the sound of her laughter so foreign to them after not hearing it for so long.
"Ok then. That sounds fun," Brittany agreed. They all headed upstairs after Brittany and Rachel decided to watch their movie in Rachel's room. "I'm just going to tuck Santana in," Brittany informed Rachel when they got to the top of the stairs.
"Ok," Rachel smiled. "Have a good rest Santana," she offered. Santana gave her a small smile and a nod in return as she followed Brittany to her guest room.
"You ok?" Brittany cooed once they were inside with the door closed.
"Yeah. Just exhausted," Santana assured her.
"I bet. It's been a big day for you huh?" Brittany reached up to gently pull out the pins holding Santana's bangs back from her face.
"Yeah. I talked with Kurt," Santana confessed. In all honesty she felt a little proud of herself for opening up, even if it wasn't much.
"You did?" Brittany broke into a proud smile.
"Not much, but a little," Santana told her, feeling as though she had to clarify that to Brittany so she didn't make more of it than it was.
"Santana that's awesome," Brittany kissed the tip of her nose as she slipped Santana's Jacket off of her shoulders, down her arms and off. She leaned back and hung it over the chair. "I'm proud of you." Santana couldn't help but smile at her. It felt nice to hear that. Brittany's warm, gentle hands ran up her back and flicked the clasp of her bra open. She slipped the straps down her arms and off over her hands before deftly pulling it out from under her top.
"Bri-itt," she whined, smiling in spite of herself.
"You can't sleep with it on," Brittany scolded lightly, hanging it over the jacket. "Remember last time you did that? The wire broke and stabbed your underboob," Brittany reminded her. "You got really mad." Santana giggled. Brittany's hand travelled down to the buttons on her jeans and started to undo them.
"Britt I can do that, you don't have to," Santana told her, a little embarrassed that Brittany was doing everything for her, like she was a child.
"I know. But I like taking care of you…" she paused. "I like loving on you," she added a little shyly. Shy wasn't something Santana had ever associated with Brittany before and she was a little taken aback. Brittany finished with the buttons on the jeans and pushed them down over Santana's hips, letting them drop to the floor. Santana stepped out of them and walked over to climb into her bed. Brittany followed, lifting the blankets up as Santana wriggled around, snuggling down and getting comfy. Once she stilled Brittany pulled her blankets up, carefully and lovingly tucking them under her chin. She looked at her for a moment, contemplating, and then turned to grab the stuffed unicorn that Santana had placed on her dresser, tucking it into the bed with her. She smiled in satisfaction as she gazed at her handiwork. "Have a good sleep," she leaned down and kissed Santana's lips. "Have beautiful dreams," another slightly longer press of Brittany's soft lips to hers. "I'll see you when you wake up," a kiss to her forehead. "I love you so much," Brittany pressed another long, gentle, loving kiss to Santana's lips and Santana sighed feeling a sense of pure bliss wash over her. Brittany stroked her hair and cheeks for a few long moments, gazing at her adoringly before pressing one last lingering kiss to her forehead and leaving the room, pausing to pick Santana's jeans up and put them on the chair and switch the lights off on her way out. "I love you," she whispered again before she pulled the door closed. Santana couldn't help the huge smile that broke out as she lay in the darkened, quiet room. For the first time in a long time she felt genuinely happy. Even if it was just a fleeting thing for now she would hold onto it and cherish it. She could think about it when things weren't so good and remember that she was capable of feeling happy again. With that in mind she fell into a peaceful, dreamless sleep within minutes.
"I thought we could watch Finding Nemo," Rachel said nervously when Brittany came into her room.
"Oh! I love Nemo!" Brittany said excitedly, clapping her hands. Rachel beamed; pleased she had made the right choice.
"Is Santana ok?" she asked as she moved to put the DVD on.
"Yeah. I took care of her and tucked her in and she actually seemed pretty happy. She's so, so tired though, I think she'll sleep for a while," Brittany told her.
"She seemed happy?" Rachel had seized on that as Brittany spoke.
"Yeah, she did," Brittany smiled. "She actually did."
"That's great," Rachel mused, pleased.
"Yeah. I was loving on her. I think she needs to be loved on a lot right now," Brittany told her.
"I think you're right," Rachel agreed, grabbing the remote and moving to sit next to Brittany on the bed. Brittany pulled Rachel's black fuzzy blanket over and spread it over both of them, snuggling down against the pillows when she was done. Rachel looked over at her and she smiled brightly and nodded toward the screen. Rachel smiled back and hit play. About 20 minutes into the movie Rachel found herself more interested in watching Brittany watch the movie than actually watching it herself. Brittany had obviously seen it a lot, she mouthed along with the dialogue quite often, her face was lit up and she looked so young in that moment. Rachel wondered how Brittany's mind worked. When they were children Brittany had always acted a little young for her age and she could remember Kate and Ricky playing along and often babying her, but she had never been 'dumb' as such back then. She marched to the beat of her own drummer that was for sure, and she seemed to live in a much happier more magical world than most of the people around her but she had been so bright then. Not that she wasn't bright now; Rachel had certainly seen plenty of evidence of that in the days since Santana had moved in, but she had changed a lot. At school she acted dumb, she failed all of her classes, she had a tendency to come out with the most random of comments at the weirdest times and sometimes she seemed like a small child. She seemed so lost and confused most of the time. Rachel knew that a lot of people at school actually thought she was intellectually handicapped. She couldn't figure out what that was all about. It was obviously an act, but how conscious Brittany was of it she didn't know. Rachel thought back to when Santana had had that first panic attack and remembered how Brittany had seemed to revert to that lost, confused, childish state as her walls came up and wondered if maybe it was a front.
"Rach," a gentle voice broke her out of her reverie. "You're missing it," Brittany scolded lightly.
"Sorry. I was thinking," Rachel apologised.
"You were staring at me. I felt like you were trying to read my mind. Are you a mind reader Rachel?" Rachel frowned as Brittany did almost exactly what she had just been thinking about. Her walls came up and she was already reverting.
"Why do you do that?" Rachel asked before she could stop herself.
"Do what?" Brittany asked.
"Your defences come up and then you act like a child. You're an intelligent girl Brittany, you've shown that a lot in the last week and a bit, how come you fail classes and act like you aren't at school? I don't understand you," Rachel blurted out in a rush. Brittany's face clouded and she almost looked angry. She stayed silent with that look on her face for long moments, so long that Rachel was about to apologise for upsetting her when she spoke, anger lacing her voice.
"Because it's what they all expect from me. At first the failing was because of what Quinn and Santana made me do to you. I was so stressed and upset that I couldn't concentrate. None of those teachers had known me before so none of them noticed my grades were actually slipping, not just bad. All they saw was a blonde, slutty cheerleader and they judged me on that. They thought I must be dumb too," Brittany paused for a breath and Rachel cut in.
"You're not slutty," she said softly. Brittany smiled wanly.
"Thanks Rachel but we both know that's crap," she said tightly. "I was miserable that year. I found that living in my own little world was easier than the real one. And when I was dumb and randomly made stupid comments, people left me alone. Santana got more protective and Quinn didn't push me to be mean as much. In the summer between freshman and sophomore year I finally had enough. I got my Mom to take me to the doctor. They diagnosed me with depression and gave me some pills. But when I got back to school I realised that all of the teachers still just expected me to fail everything. They still always expected me to be dumb, blonde Brittany, who makes stupid random comments that make no sense. I guess it just became a wall to hide behind, to keep people out. And eventually when you have everyone believing that you're too dumb to pass anything…you start to believe it too, and you just stop trying. Now I'm so far behind, I don't think there's any chance of me ever catching up," Brittany said sadly.
"You're not too dumb to pass anything. You're smart, so so smart Brittany. You're one of the smartest people I know," Rachel said, her own voice sad that Brittany felt that way. "I'm sorry you had to feel so sad," she whispered. It sounded awkward coming out but Brittany didn't seem to notice that. She just regarded Rachel seriously for long moments, a look of disbelief on her face, before she shuffled closer and rested her head on Rachel's chest.
"Dory's my favourite, I get confused a lot too. Last summer people thought I went on vacation, but actually I got lost in the sewers. I got confused and couldn't find my way out," she said flatly, emotionlessly and Rachel swore she felt her heart crack. Brittany's defences had just slammed into place with a vengeance. Rachel lifted a hand to rest it on Brittany's head where it rested over her heart. She stroked her hair gently as she tuned back into the movie, hoping it would settle her and make her feel better.
"Whoa!" Rachel jerked awake when she registered the bed moving. She bolted upright, heart racing, wide-eyed and confused, trying to figure out what was going on. She let out the breath she had been unconsciously holding when she saw Santana, frozen in place, on her bed. "Hey," Rachel huffed a out a slight laugh, taking in Santana's posture and guilty face. She had clearly been trying to crawl up the bed and sneak herself into the small gap between Brittany and the wall that Rachel's bed was pressed up against without anyone noticing. When Rachel had sat up she had frozen on her hands and knees on the bottom edge of the bed with one hand and knee on either side of Brittany's legs. Her facial expression was that of a child caught with her hand in the cookie jar and Rachel couldn't help another giggle from escaping. "Sorry," she apologised, covering her mouth. "You just look so guilty right now."
"Sorry," Santana apologised, moving to get off the bed.
"No, no!" Rachel gestured for her to carry on. "It's ok, really. Your face was just funny."
"Your face is funny," Santana retorted haughtily and Rachel sniggered.
"Wow. That was spectacularly lame for you but I'm glad to hear you trying to summon up your old snark," she commented. Santana glared as she carefully crawled over Brittany and lay down next to her. Brittany had been on her back, but as soon as she felt Santana's smaller body curl in against hers she shifted onto her side and threw an arm over her protectively. She snuffled and stirred a little bit, her eyes fluttering slightly, but when Santana lifted a hand and stroked her knuckles over her forehead they fell closed again and her face relaxed back into the peacefulness of sleep. Rachel watched them in awe, slightly jealous.
"What? Why do you always watch us like that?" Santana asked defensively, her hard, bitchy schoolyard persona starting to show. "Are we that weird to you?" Rachel just laughed softly and shook her head.
"I watch you because the two of you are so beautiful together. That's all," Rachel told her. Santana face shifted from defensive to a little bit stunned. "There's so much love between you. I'm a little envious of that. It's everything I've ever wanted in a relationship," she frowned at that.
"You've not been with Finnocence for that long. If you work at it you'll get it," Santana mumbled, kind of embarrassed that Rachel was envious of her and Brittany.
"I'm not so sure," Rachel shrugged.
"Even if we never admitted it, never made it official, denied it like the world depended on it, we've essentially been in a relationship of sorts since we were thirteen," Santana admitted softly. She was higher on the bed than Brittany and she curled around until she could hide her face against soft blonde hair. "Give it time."
"I don't think we'll ever be like you," Rachel shook her head. "Because I don't think we'll ever go through half of the struggles that you two have. Only having each other to cling to, having to hide all of the time? I think that brings a closeness that most couples can only dream of," Rachel replied, speaking cautiously and hoping she didn't upset Santana by saying it. Santana lay quietly, face buried in Brittany's soft, sweet smelling hair for a long time before she spoke again.
"Thank you," she said softly.
"For what?" Rachel asked, confused. Santana hid her face even more.
"Everything," she mumbled evasively.
"Tana? Why you hiding?" a sleepy mumble came from between them. Brittany lifted her arm from around Santana's waist and dragged it sleepily up above her own head to pet Santana's hair.
"No reason Britt," Santana replied. "Go back to sleep."
"Wanna sleep with you," Brittany mumbled, arms securing themselves around Santana's face. "In your room," she added, nuzzling her face into Santana's chest.
"Ok. Come on then before you fall asleep again," Santana laughed lightly when Brittany forced her eyes open, blinking owlishly as she struggled to keep them open.
"Thanks for the movie Rach," Brittany mumbled to Rachel as she climbed over her and padded out of the room, rubbing her eyes.
"You're welcome," Rachel called after her.
"I better make sure she finds the right room," Santana told Rachel.
"Does she still fall asleep in weird places?" Rachel asked.
"Oh yeah," Santana nodded. "Yeah she does." She left Rachel giggling to herself as she went to find Brittany.
Brittany had managed to find the right room and was curled in a tiny ball, upside down on the end of Santana's bed and was almost asleep again already.
"Aw Britt," Santana sighed, reaching down to turn her the right way up and tug her up so that her head rested on the pillows. She tucked her in and switched the light off before climbing in next to her. "Love you," she mumbled softly as she curled into Brittany's soft, warm body. Brittany wrapped her arms around Santana as she mumbled something that sounded vaguely like 'Love you too' and pulled her tighter against her.
Once again, Santana was sound asleep in minutes.