AN: I should be working on another story, but this little beast grabbed me and wouldn't let go. It was supposed to be a really short one-shot, but for some reason it refused to end. This part could theoretically stand as a one-shot, but I'll hopefully be posting another part sometime soon, providing my brain doesn't pull me in the direction of my other story ...
Let Me Take Care of You
Santana walked through the quiet hallway of McKinley High School. It was late and the school was empty, as empty as she'd ever seen it. They had finished the mash-up several hours ago, but Santana could still feel the tingling in her fingers where she had slapped Finn.
She was still mad at him, but what was even worse was that she felt incredibly helpless and out of control. She had run out of the auditorium, not even taking in the shocked faces around her, and had headed straight for the Cheerios locker room, only to turn away from it and head to an empty classroom. She knew Brittany would follow her to the locker room, but she couldn't deal with anyone right now, not even her girlfriend. She needed space.
So she curled up in a corner of Mr. Calloway's empty history classroom, trying to just fade into the walls. For a while she listened to the sounds of the school around her, listened as the New Directions and The Troubletones walked from the auditorium towards their lockers and then on home. She listened to the voices of her Troubletones who were at least pretending to be looking for her, and she listened to Brittany's voice which got more concerned the longer Santana stayed hidden.
She wondered how the teachers would react to her slapping the crap out of Finn. Mr. Schue at least knew what had happened, but she wasn't sure what he had told Ms. Corcoran about her situation. All she knew was that Finn the Douchebag was probably going to run to the principal and demand she be punished for hitting him, which was just so damn unfair. He had deserved it, hell, he would have deserved so much more than that measly little slap.
She spent a few minutes imagining all the things she should have done to Dough Boy before realizing that it really didn't get her anywhere, no matter how … relaxing it was. When she was done tarring and feathering him in her mind, she noticed that the school was finally completely quiet. She swallowed thickly, emotions bubbling to the surface faster than she could deal with them, and she didn't do emotions anyway because they just fuckin' hurt all the damn time. She couldn't even tell what she was feeling and that sure as fuck didn't help. A part of her was relieved that she was alone, finally, but there was also a tiny part that was a little bit disappointed that none of the others had bothered enough to keep looking for her. Not even her girlfriend. In the end, she just let the tears roll down her face in mascara-black rivulets.
After a few minutes, hours, or years – she really couldn't be bothered to check – her brain began working, quite without her conscious consent, and her tears stopped. She had to figure out what to do, how to get out of this completely fucked situation. She could, of course, always deny everything, but the thought of giving up her new relationship with Brittany hurt almost worse than seeing that stupid campaign video. So that was out.
She had slowly been edging towards telling her parents anyway, mostly because she and Brittany couldn't be around each other without touching these days, and sooner or later someone in her family would notice, no matter how self-absorbed and busy they were. She simply had no idea how to do it or how her parents would react, o matter how progressive they thought they were. They had been shocked but compassionate when she had told them about Quinn's pregnancy, so they weren't totally heartless, but it was probably different when it's your own kid.
She decided to run scenarios in her mind, like she did before Cheerios competitions. It was always best to be prepared.
One – best-case scenario: they haven't seen the campaign ad yet and I can tell them. They are understanding and still love me and want me to be happy, which is why they won't mind Britt being around all the time, as long as we keep the door open. No problem. She winced at how unrealistic and fairy-tale like it sounded.
Two – worst-case scenario: I come home and they've already seen the ad. They confront me, I confess my undying love for Britt, and they throw me out. Would they even let me go upstairs to pack a bag or would I have to leave with nothing but the clothes on my back? Or they demand that I stop being a … lesbian so they can love me, which is not going to happen in this lifetime. She winced again, this time for completely different reasons. This scenario sounded much more likely than the best-case scenario, but a part of her wanted to believe that they loved her enough to accept her.
She realized that whatever happened with her family would probably fall somewhere between those two scenarios. If it were closer to the best-case scenario, she'd be okay. If it were closer to the worst-case scenario, she'd probably have to bunk at Brittany's house for a while. She was certain the Pierces would let her stay, hell, they took in that fuckin' Leprechaun kid. And then she and Britt would have to see what was going to happen.
For the first time in what felt like days her lips curled upwards into a tiny smile. She smiled because there wasn't a single scenario in her mind where Brittany wasn't by her side. With that she decided that it was time to go home and see what the situation was. She got up and headed for her locker to grab some clothes.
Her sneakers were the only sound in the hallway, a simple tap-tap-tap that echoed in the empty building. Just as she was rounding the last corner before the main entrance, she heard another sound.
Santana stopped dead in her tracks. Fuck.I thought I had until tomorrow until I get reprimanded. She closed her eyes for a second before turning around. "Coach."
"Come to my office for a sec," Sue Sylvester said quietly and disappeared into her sanctum.
Huh,that almost sounded like a request, not an order. That fact scared Santana a little because it reminded her of the earlier intervention. But she also knew that no matter how un-commanding the coach had been that she really had no choice.
She hesitated at the door.
"Come in, Santana." Coach Sylvester voice was still calm and Santana was starting to freak out a little bit. She wasn't used to hearing her actual name fall from those lips.
Santana nodded and took a seat in front of the desk. "What's going on, Coach?" she asked, her voice almost as steady as she hoped it would be.
"That's what I wanted to ask you." When Santana didn't say anything, Sue continued. "Not in your uniform, I see." She pointed at Santana who was dressed in jeans and a black shirt. Before Santana could defend herself, Sue went on. "Nice change … but just for today."
Well, that last bit almost sounded like the real Sue Sylvester. "Yes, Coach."
"Listen, Santana, I'm really sorry that my opponent is trying to use you to beat me. It was never my intention to draw you into this." Sue chuckled. "Well, not that much anyway, and not in this way." She paused. "I called a few people today and I got a judge that I know to sign an injunction against the ad."
Santana looked up. "Does that mean-?"
"The ad won't make it to statewide TV, at least not today and probably tomorrow." Sue sighed a little. "If he appeals the injunction, however, I can't guarantee anything past that. But this gives you today and tomorrow to … you know, do what you need to do."
And that throws out at least one part of my worst-case scenario.I can still tell them on my own terms,at least if I do it immediately. Santana swallowed, her throat suddenly dry and constricted. "Thanks, Coach." There really wasn't anything else to say.
"If you want me to, I could come with you to talk to your parents," Sue said, her voice gentle.
Oh hell no!"Thanks, Coach, but I think that's something I have to do alone."
"No," Sue replied just as gentle as before, "you don't. If you don't want a congressional candidate by your side, at least take your girlfriend."
"Lopez," Sue interrupted her, "this is not just about you."
"Coach is right, San," came a voice from the open door.
Santana stood and whirled around. "Britt! What are you doing here?"
"I got tired of playing hood ornament for your car," Brittany said as she walked into the room. "So I decided to look for you again."
"You were waiting outside for me the whole time?" Santana murmured.
Santana really wanted to hug Brittany and she could see Brittany's hands twitch as well, but she couldn't when Sue Sylvester was sitting in front of them.
"I need to check on something in the locker room, girls," Sue suddenly said. And before anyone could say anything else, she was gone.
Santana flew into Brittany's arms the second they were alone and Brittany hugged her for all she was worth.
"Did you really think I wouldn't be waiting for you?" Brittany asked quietly after a few moments.
Santana shrugged. "I don't know … not really … but everyone else left …"
Brittany pulled away slightly to look into Santana's eyes. "They left because I told them to, silly." She brushed at the still visible tear tracks on her girlfriend's face. "I know you needed some alone time, so I told them I'd take care of you."
"As always," Santana breathed.
"I'm sorry I denied this … us … for so long, Britt," Santana sighed. "I love you."
"Don't apologize again," Brittany teased. "We talked about this so much over the summer." She leaned in for a quick peck on the cheek. "I know you love me, San, and I love you, and no matter what happens, that's the important thing."
Santana sniffled. "Yes, oh wise woman." She looked up at the blonde's face, suddenly needing to be a lot closer to her. "Britt …" her voice was strangled, "I …"
Brittany took one look into Santana's eyes, and nodded. She pulled both their backpacks onto one shoulder and walked out of the office, pulling Santana along with her free hand.
"Britt … where …" Santana stumbled after her girlfriend who was looking up and down the hallway as she went, finally storming into the dark choir room and into Mr. Schue's office.
Brittany kicked the door close, pulled down the blinds and threw their backpacks onto the desks, all seemingly in one motion. Then she tugged on Santana's hand, pulling her flush against her body, before attacking her lips in a fierce, but loving kiss. "Let me take are of you," she whispered.
"Oh, God," Santana cried out between kisses, dragging Brittany to the closest wall by her uniform top. Brittany's body pushed her into the wall so hard that she was afraid she'd become part of the paneling, but it felt so, so good. The last clear thought Santana later remembered having was, Britt knows me so well.
The drive to Santana's house was silent, but not uncomfortably so. Brittany had insisted on driving with another quiet "let me take care of you", so Santana was free to look at her girlfriend and the streetlights outside the car.
"Coach Sylvester was acting really strangely earlier," Santana finally said into the silence.
"Yeah," Brittany agreed. "She let you walk around in street clothes without making you run a few miles!"
Santana chuckled. "That was a surprise, yeah. I expected her to rip me a new one after I slapped that walking sack of potatoes."
Brittany stopped the car at a red light and looked at her. "Why didn't you tell me about what Finn said to you?" She sounded hurt. "Don't you think I should have known?"
Santana reached over to put her hand on Brittany's thigh. "I'm sorry, Britt." She sighed. "I should have … but I didn't want you to have to deal with that …" She sighed. "I thought I could deal with it on my own."
"Please stop trying to protect me, San," Brittany protested. "That's not what I need from you … what we need from each other." She looked over at her girlfriend. "If you tell me things, I can help you deal with them, but that only works if you don't keep things from me."
Santana had a feeling they weren't just talking about Finn any longer. "I'm sorry, B, I really am … it's just that—"
"That you've protected me all my life, I know," Brittany interrupted yet another apology that she didn't want or need. "I would just really, really like to protect you for a change, you know," she whispered.
Santana swallowed around the lump in her throat and squeezed Brittany's thigh gently before pulling her hand back into her own lap. "I'll try, Britt."
"You better!" And with that Brittany's sunny grin was back, just as they stopped in front of the Lopez residence.
Brittany turned off the car and turned her whole body towards the passenger seat. "How do you want to do this, honey?"
Santana looked at the front door of her house, at the lights streaming out of the kitchen window, then shrugged. "I don't know … I don't have much of a plan."
"Why don't we go inside and see who's home?"
"Yeah." But Santana didn't move. Brittany got out of the car, walked around to the passenger door and opened it, offering her hand to the girl inside. It took a few seconds for Santana to start moving, but finally she was standing in front of her own house, very unsure of whether or not this would still be her home after tonight.
She turned to her girlfriend. "Britt, if my parents—"
Brittany tightened her hold on Santana's hand. "If bad things happen here tonight, you'll come stay with me." She blushed a little. "I don't really want to be away from you anyway."
Santana smiled. "That sounds good." She nodded once, then again, and finally opened the door and walked inside.
"Santana, is that you?" came a voice from the kitchen.
"Yes, it's me, abuela," Santana replied, wishing her voice hadn't cracked right then. She moved towards the kitchen, maintaining a death grip on Brittany's hand. She was beginning to sweat and she couldn't shake the feeling that there wasn't enough air in the whole world for her to breathe in.
Santana's grandmother was preparing dinner in the kitchen, a sure sign that her parents were expected home sometime soon. "Hola, Santana," she said. "Hello, Brittany."
When Santana didn't reply or come any closer, Carmen Lopez looked up at the two girls in the doorway. "What's wrong? Did something happen at school?"
Seeing that Santana seemed frozen to the spot, Brittany decided that now might be a good time for her to jump in and help her girlfriend. "Well, something always happens at school," she deflected the question by answering it very literally, "otherwise we wouldn't have to go, right?"
Carmen Lopez laughed, well acquainted with Brittany's view on life, and that brought back some life into Santana. She let go of Brittany's hand and took a couple of steps towards her grandmother. "When are mom and dad going to be home?" she asked after a moment.
"Any minute," her grandmother replied, just as the sound of cars pulling into the driveway could be heard. A few seconds later the front door opened and closed, and then Santana's parents came into view.
"Hello, girls," Dr. Lopez greeted them with a friendly smile while his wife went over to hug both girls and her mother-in-law.
"Did anything happen?" Maria Lopez asked, taking in her daughter's clothes and the somewhat strained mood in the room. "Why aren't you in your uniform?"
Santana rolled her yes. She should have just worn the damn thing. "Coach allowed me to wear normal clothes for a change, mamí."
"Oh, okay," her mother said, while her husband could be heard saying something that sounded suspiciously like "about time".
"Well then," Maria Lopez continued, "Let's have dinner and you two can tell us about your day. You're staying, right, Brittany?"
Brittany nodded, suddenly feeling a little nervous as well.
"Something is wrong, I can feel it," Santana's mother mumbled with another look at the two girls who appeared too nervous for a normal dinner, even if it was at the Lopez house, which could get rough and rowdy sometimes. She looked up sharply. "Is either one of you pregnant?"
"No!" both girls practically shouted.
"No, totally not, mamí," Santana insisted.
"That's not even possible," Brittany whispered, almost giving her girlfriend a heart attack. "What?" Brittany asked when she saw Santana's look. "It's not."
Mrs. Lopez breathed a sigh of relief while her husband looked on with something close to amusement. "OK, I'm starving, let's eat," he called out, already on his way to the dining table.
Everyone followed, Santana and Brittany bringing up the rear, shuffling as if they were walking towards their doom, not dinner.
After several minutes of uncomfortable silence, Maria Lopez had enough. There was clearly something going on. Neither of the girls sitting at her table had eaten anything, nor had they so much as looked up from their plates. She saw the looks Brittany was shooting Santana when she thought nobody was watching, and they were not the same looks she usually sent her daughter. No, this was a worried kind of look, and from the way Santana was sitting in her chair, all shrunken and trying to hide behind her cutlery led her to believe that the one in trouble wasn't Brittany.
She put her fork down forcefully, intentionally making more than enough noise to wake the dead. Everyone raised their heads and looked at her. "Well," she said serenely, "now that I have your attention, Santana, Brittany, why don't you tell us what's going on?"
Santana looked at her mother like a deer caught in the headlights. She hated that she was so … terrified. They were her parents and they loved her, right? No matter what. Right? She felt as if a sandstorm had settled in her throat and lungs, and no amount of water could wash that away. She tried anyway, taking a couple of huge gulps from her glass, an action that unbeknownst to her made her mother very, very nervous.
Brittany discreetly put her hand on Santana's knee, trying to calm her and give her strength. She pressed into the strong flesh once, twice, and a third time when Santana didn't make a move to say anything. Finally, she breathed out a quiet, "San?"
Santana's thoughts were jumbled, twirling around in her brain like a tornado. Brittany's hand was steadying her, though, and she closed her eyes for a second to focus. When she heard Brittany's quiet voice, she steeled herself with one last deep breath, and looked her mother straight in the eyes.
"Mom … mamí …," she started, the stopped and started anew. "I … I have to tell you something. It's not really bad … but it's sort of big … and important … and it's about me."
She held up her hand when she saw her mother taking a deep breath as if to speak. "No, please, just let me say this." Her mother nodded. "I'm not pregnant, mamí …" She hesitated again before finally pressing the words she dreaded through her dry throat. "I'm … I'm just … I'm gay."
The silence around the table was deafening as everyone stared at Santana and then Brittany, putting two and two together with ease. Dr. Lopez calmly folded up his napkin, put it on his plate and stood, before leaving the room without a word.
Santana fought the urge to run, run as fast and as far as she could, but Brittany's hand on her leg grounded her like nothing else could. Besides, she had said what she needed to say. Now the ball was in her parents' court.
Maria Lopez looked at her daughter, her face blank, her eyes expressionless. This was something she never would have expected, but when she looked at Brittany and the way the blonde girl looked at her daughter, she suddenly recognized the looks she had always seen for what they were – love.
Carmen Lopez looked at her granddaughter, disgust clouding her features. She looked to where her son had disappeared to, then at her useless daughter-in-law who wouldn't say anything either. She knew it was up to her to speak out.
"I always knew you were no good," she started, venom lacing her words like a toxin. "Trash, that's what you are, you and your … puta." She spat the last word, and Santana was glad that Brittany's Spanish wasn't particularly good.
Santana opened her mouth, but her abuela stopped her. "Be quiet," she bellowed harshly. "You have nothing to say at this table, you godless … creature."
"Carmen!" Maria Lopez finally came out of her trance when she saw all color leave Santana's face. "Stop!"
"Why?" the older woman spat. "She's worthless, always has been. It's all your fault anyway, you probably made her that way."
"No." Brittany's voice was surprisingly steely, even if it was quiet. "It's nobody's fault, nobody made us this way … we were born this way, and it's not wrong." She looked away from Santana's scary grandmother and looked at her girlfriend's mother. "Santana is a wonderful person, and she's my best friend. And I love her." She looked at Santana, then took Santana's hand and placed their interlaced fingers on the table. "I'm in love with her, just like she's in love with me."
"Madre de dios," Carmen Lopez mumbled and made the sign of the cross. "Get out, both of you, you … filth."
Santana and Brittany both pushed their chairs back, prepared to leave where they weren't welcome.
"Stop, please," Santana's mother pleaded, to both her daughter and her mother-in-law. "Don't leave," she continued quietly, and Santana almost heard the "not yet" that her mother hadn't tacked onto her plea. "And you," she turned to Carmen, "you don't have the right to tell my daughter to leave."
The old woman spluttered and threw her napkin on the table. "We'll see what my son has to say about that." She got up and walked towards the door. She stopped in the doorway and turned around. "Either she goes or I go," she hissed. "And I'm an old woman … who do you think your husband is going to listen to?"
Maria Lopez turned to the two girls who seemed to be half-sitting, half-standing at the table. "Sit down, girls. We need to talk."
Both girls sat back down, but when nobody said anything for, Brittany got nervous. "Erm, Mrs. Lopez," she began, "I'm really confused right now."
Santana nodded. "Yeah, me too."
"Should we leave?" Brittany asked.
"Are you okay with this?" Santana asked almost simultaneously.
Maria Lopez looked at her daughter. "Mija, you do know what I do for a living, right?" Both Santana and Brittany nodded, and Brittany almost added a "duh" for good measure. "Then tell me, what part of lawyer for the ACLU equates to narrow-minded bigot for you?"
"So you're okay?" Santana just needed to hear it from her mother's mouth, just the words, no flowery descriptions.
Maria Lopez sighed. "Am I happy that you're gay? No. Because as you're experiencing right now, this is still not an easy lifestyle. Am I angry with you two? No. Because I believe love is love, no matter what. But …" she paused, "your abuela is going to be a different matter. I know you've always had problems with her, and me too, but your father loves her, and she is stubborn enough to push him into doing something … crazy."
"Maybe I should talk to him," Santana murmured. "Explain to him."
Her mother shook her head. "Mija, your father works in a hospital, he knows gay people. One of his colleagues is even married to another man." She chuckled, but sobered quickly. "The problem is your abuela. If she tells your father it's either her or you, I don't know what he'll do."
She saw the panic rise on Santana's face.
"Not because he loves her more than you, honey," she said quickly, "but she's his mother, and she's elderly, and this is a hard thing for him to make a choice about."
Brittany saw Santana's stricken face and put her arms around her, but not without a side-glance at Santana's mother, who smiled and nodded. Santana stiffened for a second, also shooting a look at her mother, getting the same smile and tiny nod. Only then did she relax her body enough for Brittany to pull her into a hug.
"I'm going to talk to your father," her mother said as she got up from the table. "Why don't you clear the table and then go upstairs?"
Both girls nodded, even though Santana's nod was hidden in the crook of Brittany's neck. "Okay."
Ten minutes later the girls were sitting on Santana's bed listening to the yells and screams coming from her father's study. Santana was glad they were arguing in Spanish so she didn't have to explain to Brittany the abuse her grandmother heaped on her mother. Apparently, there was no love lost between the two women, something that Santana hadn't really noticed until then.
Finally, the voiced got quieter, although Santana wasn't sure if that was only because someone had remembered to close the door to the study at last.
"The fighting has stopped, I think," Brittany mumbled, "but my stomach still kinda hurts."
"Mine too," Santana replied quietly. "It's the stress, I think," she added as she began to softly rub circles on Brittany's stomach. The blonde sighed.
There was a knock before her door opened. That's new, Santana thought. She watched as her mother and father came into the room to stand awkwardly next to the bed.
"Santana," her father began, "first off, I didn't run off because I hate you." Santana could see how uncomfortable he was and she knew she wasn't going to like what came next. "Your abuela is a very … headstrong woman, and she values her traditions and morals. For her, it's completely unacceptable that you're gay, and she refuses to be under the same roof as you."
"I'm going to pack my stuff then." Santana's voice and body language spoke of resignation. "I'll go … somewhere."
"We'll go to my house, San, just like we said," Brittany added.
"Santana," her mother interrupted her daughter's darkening thoughts. "It's just until we find a place for her to live." Santana looked up, surprised. "I'm not going to let her run my daughter out of my own house."
Santana looked over at her father who nodded, albeit hesitantly.
"You're free to stay here, mija," Dr. Lopez said, "but I'm afraid she's going to make your life a living hell if you do. It's your choice, really. If Brittany's parents will let you stay with them, that might be nicer for you."
"Do your parents know about you two, Brittany," Santana's mother asked. "Will they be okay with Santana staying over for a few days?"
Brittany chuckled and held Santana's hand a little tighter. "My mom said that I told her I was going to marry Santana one day … when I was five." She shrugged. "So I guess they know."
"But you haven't mentioned the fact that you're in love with Santana to her since?" Maria Lopez asked.
"No, but I don't think I have to," Brittany said with a smile. "The thing she reminded me of? That I wanted to marry San? She said that last night, and I told her that my plans haven't really changed."
She looked at the floor, completely missing the wide-eyed look Santana gave her or the jaws that dropped on Santana's parents' faces.
"I guess that's okay then," Maria Lopez finally said.
Brittany just nodded. "Do you want to stay or go, San?"
Santana stopped her rambling thoughts long enough to squeak out a "go" before Brittany dragged her towards her closet.
It took 20 minutes to pack two duffel bags with essentials, even though Santana's parents said that there was no need to take all that stuff because they could always come back for more clothes. Besides, it was only going to be for a few days.
Santana's grandmother was nowhere to be found when they said goodbye to Santana's parents downstairs and Santana felt nothing but relief at that. When the door closed behind them with what sounded like more finality than it should have, she breathed in deeply once, then again, then let it go.
The Pierces were surprised to see Brittany come in so late and with Santana in tow, but just as Brittany had predicted they took it all in stride once the girls explained the situation. Mr. Pierce was a little worried about the two of them sleeping in the same room, now that they were a couple, but Brittany's mother told him that apparently nothing had really changed from the last time they had shared a room, which had only been a few days ago.
"Besides," Mrs. Pierce added, "there is no other room since Rory is in the spare room."
At the mention of Brittany's pet Irish Santana blew an inner raspberry, secretly looking forward to torturing him at the breakfast table with the knowledge that she had Brittany and he never would. Brittany only looked at Santana and breathed a "be nice" into her ear, before leading her upstairs and into her bedroom.