She tells Santana that Jerome Robbins [1] was like her—you know, a perfectionist.

"But I'm not, though," Santana says, snuggling into Brittany, face pressed against the plastisol print on her School of Music and Dance sweatshirt. Santana looks up and kisses at the underside of Brittany's chin, but misses. Her lips make a soft rucking noise against the air. Under the blanket, Santana and Brittany's hands twine, and, above it, colored light from the television screen plays over their faces in flashes. The house is October cool and still, except for their rustling and the bright, lively soundtrack to the movie mumbling in front of them.

"You are," Brittany tells Santana gently, petting lightly over the bones in Santana's hands. [2] When Santana draws a breath to protest, Brittany shushes her. "You wouldn't be doing this if you weren't. I love that about you."

She can almost feel Santana melt at that one. Heat passes over them.

"Well," Santana says.

A pause.

"This is like the sixth time we've watched this, San."

"Fourth."

They don't talk for a long while after that. Rita Moreno [3] and George Chakiris wheel in whirling mauve circles over the rooftop before them, married and unmarried.

(They don't tease quite like Anita and Bernardo do.)

(But.) [4]

Brittany notices that there are no stars in the sky behind the scene, just a purple-brown haze, like a bruised plum; Brittany knows about movie sets, of course, but she also knows about New York—knows New York, a bit, or feels acquainted with it, at least—and sees truth in how the skyscrapers shout light over the quiet stars, with everything above the buildings watercolor wash, murky and waiting, starless, unlike Ohio, and the dull, heavy brick behind them, earth toned. Brittany can't help but count the mixed meter to song: three-four and six-eight in patches, tapping it against the roof of her mouth with her tongue.

"He worked so hard filming the dances that the studio fired him for taking too long, but then he won an Emmy for his work afterwards."

"Did your dance instructor tell you that?"

"Yeah, when I told her you were in the play."

"You're in it, too, chula."

Mr. Schue probably doesn't even know that word and Brittany can't bring herself to ask Santana what it means just yet. She likes the way it sounds, though—sweet and just a little bit nervous, like the tremble of a plucked string—in Santana's voice. [5]

"Yeah," Brittany says, finally, melting a little bit herself. "Again?"

"Again."

Brittany reaches for the remote to reset the scene.

So.


1. He choreographed the movie version of West Side Story in 1961—I remember that part because that's the year my aunt Linda was born. I saw a picture of him once; he wore these super fierce khaki sailor pants with a high waistline and did a perfect point-toed kick, even though he looked old in the picture, like with gray hair and everything. (It was hard to tell because the picture was black and white.) Most dancers age out by then, which is why they switch to choreography or they teach instead. My modern instructor would have told him he had good pelvic lift. Sometimes I choreograph for glee and Cheerios, even though I'm still dancing and I'm not really that old yet. I am older than almost everybody in our grade, though. Except for Quinn and maybe this one other kid who's in my social studies class. Santana says I'm good at it: at dancing, at teaching, at everything.

2. She is. In the sixth grade, we had to do this art project where we drew contour lines like that guitar guy from Moulin Rouge used to do on his dancing lady posters, and since she didn't think hers turned out right—you're not allowed to lift your hand when you draw contours, and she's a leftie, so—she didn't turn it in when the art teacher asked for it and she got a zero, even though she had it done on time and everything. When the teacher asked me where mine was, I told her that I accidentally returned it with my library books or maybe that I faxed it to Paris. I got a zero, too.

3. She thinks Rita Moreno is really pretty, but she won't put it that way. "They don't make movie stars like that anymore," she says instead, voice a little raspy, a little quiet, almost sad. Maybe she thinks that I'll get mad at her if she notices. Maybe she's mad at herself for noticing. Maybe she's embarrassed. I know it could be all of that, so I tell her, "Yeah, so beautiful," and stroke her hand. And she just smiles at me and nods a little, relieved; sometimes she's still so shy about the things she really wants.

4. Someday, she'll ask me and I won't be surprised at all. And she'll worry and think she's done something wrong, even though she hasn't, and she'll squoosh up her eyebrows all cute like she does, and her voice will get high and breathy and she'll say, "Um, a little help here, Britty?" and I'll just tell her: when we were fourteen, in your basement. You gave me a Ring Pop and I said yes. I always keep my promises. And I don't forget important things.

5. The night after we go out to dinner and hold hands under the napkin, she blurts it out while we're doing our Calculus B homework: "It means like 'girlfriend.' Or like 'my sweetie,' I guess. You know—chula? I thought, I...," and she looks at me with bright, quick eyes, like she's scared I'll push her off the bed onto the floor or something. Sometimes she really, really reminds me of a rabbit. A cute rabbit. Or like a cute mouse. Something cute, for sure. Timid. I laugh at her, because she needs that sometimes, and kiss her nose, because she needs that sometimes, too. I tell her I like it. And then I call her my lovergirl, and she says she likes that so, so much.