Brittany stared down at the box in her hands, head tilted to the side, eyes carefully critical and tried to decide again whether it was too much.
She tipped it up, noticing the red silk ribbon was slightly crooked and straightened it with nervous hands, running her finger underneath to pull out the crease and setting it upright again on her palm.
It was cute she told herself. A nice, sweet little gift that clearly said 'Thank you for looking after me whilst I was sick at regionals, I really appreciate you holding my hair whilst I threw up everywhere' and in no way implied anything else apart from a thankful student responding to the innocent kindess of her teacher.
Yes. It was sweet.
She nodded to herself, sweet was fine.
Romantic was not.
The gift wrap had been neatly done by the boy at the store and she wondered now whether she should have asked him to choose a different colour. Suddenly the red paper seemed wrong. What if Santana took it as another unwelcome pass at her? Did most people connect the colour with love? Was it inappropriate? Was it weird that she had only realised now?
Brittany, stop she told herself, you're being ridiculous. No one could look that deeply at a box of candy. It's fine. Just relax.
Looking down at it nervously clutched in her hands, she took a final deep breath and knocked softly on the classroom door, unable to stop her stomach clenching uncomfortably when a low voice instructed her to come in.
Holding the gift half behind her back in embarrassment, Brittany stepped into the classroom and waited for Santana to look up, smiling shyly when dark eyes met her own.
"Afternoon, Ms. Lopez"
The woman regarded her with surprise but smiled warmly and placed her pen on the desk, the senior test papers she had been marking now forgotten.
The blonde ran her tongue lightly over her lower lip nervously, before willing herself to move further into the room and explain why she was there, the gift still tucked behind her out of sight.
"I just wanted to come and thank you...for regionals, you know"
Santana nodded slowly, her mouth forming a silent 'oh' as she remembered the last time they had been alone together. Brittany hadn't really been in a state to thank her then, too drowsy to form a coherent sentence, and even when they had left the hotel the next morning she had slept for the whole journey back, so this was the first real opportunity they'd had to talk since.
"It was really nice of you to look after me, and I'm kind of embarrassed about being sick and everything-"
Looking down, she scuffed the edge of a pristine white trainer against the floor, unable to make eye contact as her cheeks went pink at the memory,
"-so I wanted to bring you this, just as a kind of thank you..for, you know, being so kind"
Her voice tailed off as she drew her hand from behind her back and advanced forwards, placing the gift wrapped box self consciously on Santana's desk and keeping her gaze low, avoiding eye contact.
There was a short silence in which a surprised but quietly delighted Santana studied the item in front of her, cheeks flushing slightly as she reached to pick it up delicately.
"Brittany, that's..uh..that's really sweet..."
She tailed off as the lid flipped open, revealing a row of decorated chocolate hearts nestled into a red velvet lining, each with an iced message on the top. Her eyes fell on the largest piece in the middle which had the words 'Be Mine' written in careful, red handwriting across it and she swallowed audibly before speaking.
"Umm..Brittany, I'm not really sure if..if these are..well-"
"Oh my God"
The blonde had finally lifted her gaze when the teacher had gone quiet, her own eyes widening in horror when she had seen the heart shaped chocolates and she darted forwards, pushing the lid shut as though it would somehow be easier to explain without the offending candy in plain sight.
"I'm sorry Ms. Lopez I didn't know I had no idea the boy at the shop just said they were chocolates I would never have got those ones if I had known honestly I'm so sorry I really-"
Santana stared up at the flustered cheerleader with a reassuring smile on her lips, anxious to show her she believed it was an accident and equally anxious to hide her own disappointment that it hadn't been intentional.
"It's fine, don't worry about it"
Brittany's face was still red with embarrassment and she frowned, eyes flicking to the box but Santana forced a light laugh and smiled at the blonde, careful not to make it even more awkward.
"Honestly, it's ok Brittany. It's close to Valentine's day, he must have assumed you were looking for something..." She paused, eyes drifting back to the sheets in front of her as her voice got quieter "..something for your boyfriend"
The blonde hesitated, almost speaking up to assure Santana she didn't have a boyfriend, but then deciding it was unecessary and simply nodding instead.
"Yeah, I guess"
"I'm sure it was an honest mistake"
"..it was..I promise"
Suddenly feeling a little despondent without knowing exactly why, Santana sighed, brushing her finger along the silk ribbon and smiling sadly.
"But thank you anyway...it was really sweet of you"
Brittany shrugged slightly and felt her cheeks go pink again but this time with happiness. She reached her hand up to push a strand of hair behind her ear self consciously, almost whispering her next sentence.
"I just hope you know how much I appreciate you looking after me...because I do, I really do"
"I would have felt awful if I hadn't"
"Well..you made me feel a lot better just being there...so thank you, really"
Santana nodded slowly, her throat dry as she continued to stare at the box of chocolates.
Fragments of sentences, the words she had last said to Brittany flashed into her head and suddenly she wanted to say them again, to make sure they were heard this time, but even before her brain could convince her it wouldn't be the sensible thing to do there was a knock at the door, disturbing the charged silence in the class room and startling them both.
Santana looked up, bewildered for a second before clearing her throat and calling out reluctantly.
The door opened and a grinning Will Schuester appeared from behind it, moving excitedly into the room and managing to stretch the smile even wider when he noticed Brittany by the desk.
"Hey, Brittany, what are you doing here?"
"Oh..uh, I just came to say thank you..you know, for everything that happened at regionals"
"Oh right, of course. Well..I just came to get Ms. Lopez for her first official Glee rehearsal"
He turned, directing a wink at the brunette who had already started to stand up and reach for her bag.
Santana forced a smile, carefully pushing the box of candy under a stack of papers as she moved around the desk and hoping Will didn't notice.
"Great..Brittany, you coming?"
The blonde nodded, shooting a quick look at Santana who kept her eyes down.
Will clapped his hands together for attention and smiled around the room, waiting for the chatter to die down before he gestured towards Santana who sat on a chair to the side.
"You obviously all remember Ms. Lopez from Regionals"
There was a ripple of acknowledgment as she smiled towards them, her eyes hovering for just a few seconds longer on Brittany, who smiled shyly back at her.
"I am happy to say that this is her first Glee rehearsal, not only as a helper, but as official Co-Director"
At the back of the room Puck highfived a beaming Kurt and Will smiled, raising his eyebrows at Santana before continuing.
"And, that is a role she has kindly agreed to fulfil until the end of the year, so yes Puck and Kurt, you can highfive again, Ms. Lopez will be with us for nationals"
The two boys laughed and Will was about to speak again when a loud voice cut him off, the unmistakable tones of Rachel Berry claiming everyone's attention as she got up to stand in front of the teacher, a wearily patient smile on her face.
"This is great news, and I am just as happy as everyone else that Ms. Lopez will be accompanying us to Nationals-"
She raised her eyebrows pointedly around the room, her expression stern.
"-but, need I remind you that said event is less than 2 months away, and we have barely started brainstorming ideas. As much as a celebratory welcome would be fun in ordinary circumstances, I really think we need to get started"
She finished abruptly, her hands placed decidely on her hips which, given her small frame, gave her the look of an impatient child.
After a short silence Will stepped forward, laying a gentle hand on her shoulder and smirking good naturedly.
"Ok Rachel, maybe you're right"
He clapped his hands together again and gestured to the rest of the students.
"So, does anyone have ideas? Anything prepared to show everyone?..."
As though an idea had struck him he turned to his right to address the blonde boy sitting in the front row, pointing one finger, pistol like in his direction.
"..Sam? Didn't you say you had an idea earlier?"
The boy looked around nervously, getting an encouraging smile from Finn who sat beside him before nodding slowly and clearing his throat to reply.
"Uhm yeah. It's not much though"
Will shook his head,
"Doesn't matter, we just need ideas at this point"
He stepped back, walking over to the empty chair beside Santana and gesturing at the now vacant centre for Sam.
He got up half reluctantly, running a hand through his hair self consciously and making his way to the middle of the room. After picking up an guitar from a stand at the back he stood awkwardly for a moment, his cheeks a little pink, before explaining his song choice to the group who listened politely.
"Uhm, this is a song for..well for someone that I really like..and I've been working on it for a while so I hope it sounds ok...here goes I guess"
Playing a few gentle chords on his guitar for introduction he looked up, smiling shyly and adding, "Hopefully she'll know who she is.." before launching into a soft and somewhat predictable, Santana thought, version of Guns & Roses 'Sweet Child Of Mine'.
He started quietly, his voice pleasant but lacking any real power and Santana guessed from the way he avoided eye contact with the audience, that the lucky girl this was aimed at was either Tina or Mercedes, both of whom sat giggling in the front row.
Whilst he sang she tried to keep her gaze focused, wishing he would do something interesting enough to keep her attention, but despite her attempts she found herself painfully aware of the electric blue eyes staring at her across the room. And keeping her own eyes from flicking towards them was proving impossible.
She's got a smile it seems to me
Reminds me of childhood memories
Was as fresh as the bright blue sky
Now and then when I see her face
She takes me away to that special place
And if I'd stare too long
I'd probably break down and cry
Sam flicked his hair with an elaborate sweep of his head and Santana had to restrain an eye roll.
She almost felt sorry for the girl he was singing this to. It just felt so 'Backstreet Boys', so affected.
Could he seriously be so mistaken as to think this was cute?
Well, she thought, raising one perfectly shaped eyebrow as he thrust his hips at an amused looking Quinn, if he did he was wrong.
Oh, oh, oh
Sweet child o' mine
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Sweet love of mine
The song continued, Sam gaining confidence as his friends clapped, singing along, and as he sang the second verse he danced forward, into his audience, and suddenly Santana's heart dropped, snarky inner monologue forgotten.
He had moved around the laughing girls at the front and cut a direct path to the blonde cheerleader sitting in the back seat, oblivious to his actions until he was directly in front of her, smiling at her surprised expression.
Her eyes had still been trained on Santana, who had been shifting uncomfortably in her seat with the overwhelming desire to stare back, so Brittany hadn't noticed his approach. She had barely noticed he was even singing.
But now here he was, standing right there, serenading her in front of everyone, and her mind suddenly travelled back to a conversation last week in the canteen with Mercedes. Hadn't she mentioned something about Sam asking her to prom? Did he like her or something?
Judging by his sudden proximity, it certainly seemed that way.
She looked up into his face, at the coy smile playing on his lips as he sang to her and prayed she was wrong.
She's got eyes of the bluest skies
As if they thought of rain
I hate to look into those eyes
And see an ounce of pain
Her hair reminds me of a warm safe place
Where as a child I'd hide
And pray for the thunder
And the rain
To quietly pass me by
Oh, oh, oh
Sweet child o' mine
Oh, oh, oh, oh
Sweet love of mine
He got down on one knee for the final part, taking Brittany's stunned surprise as a good sign and closing his eyes because Finn had instructed him to earlier, with the advice that 'It makes you look intense, like you're really feeling it'.
Where do we go?
Where do we go now?
Where do we go?
Unnoticed by them both, Santana watched from a few metres away, eyes dark, narrowed at Sam. The force of her jealousy surprised her, clutching like ice at her chest and flooding her senses with an inexplicable rage.
From the minute he had dropped to his knee her arms had folded tightly across her chest, squeezing them together almost painfully to stop herself from getting up and ripping him away from Brittany, anything to stop him staring at her like that.
It was heartwrenching to watch but she couldn't tear her eyes away, a hissing noise escaping her lips as he moved in closer, turning his face upward to try and get a response from the frozen blonde.
Where do we go now?
No, no, no, no, no, no
Sweet child of mine.
Ending with a gentle, fading chord he opened his eyes, grinning at the applause from his friends and shrugging modestly when Puck leant forward to slap a congratulary hand on his shoulder.
"Cool song bro"
He pulled the guitar strap over his head, still standing close to Brittany as he waited for some kind of reaction from her and held the instrument awkwardly in his hands. She was staring blankly, clearly lost for words and after turning his head towards Finn, who gave him a thumbs up, he decided that must mean she had enjoyed it, but now was playing hard to get and so he winked at her, grinning, before returning the guitar and sitting back down in his seat as Will got up, smiling.
"Sam, that was great, I loved the song, you did a really good job"
He span on the balls of his feet to turn to Santana who was sitting rigidly in her chair, an unreadable expression on her face.
"Ms. Lopez? What do you think?"
After a short pause she gave him a tense smile, unfolding her arms and getting up quickly from her seat.
She turned to direct her words, clipped and unnatural sounding, at Sam "That was really good, well done" before apologising quickly to Will and moving towards the door, gathering her bag over her shoulder and clutching the handle so tightly her knuckles paled.
"I'm really sorry, but I've just remembered that it's thursday and I have to get my performance review into Principal Figgins before he leaves...I feel bad but I completley forgot about it and I really need to get it done today"
Will stared at her surprised,
"What?...um, really? Right now?..Well I can get one of the students to-"
She shook her head decisively, waving away his suggestion with an impatient hand,
"No, that's ridiculous, they need to rehearse. Look I'll talk to you tomorrow, ok? You can fill me in on what I've missed then"
He let out a bewildered sigh, blowing the air out through his cheeks and shrugging as he realised nothing he said would make her stay.
He had a hard time believing there was anything so urgent she couldn't wait half an hour to do but he knew Santana, and challenging her on anything wasn't something he felt would ever go well for him.
"Well...I guess that's the only option"
"Great, I'll see you then..."
She nodded, desperate to leave before she punched the overgrown blonde toddler in the face, knowing the rest of the Glee kids probably thought she was insane but barely caring as she pulled open the door.
"Ok, bye, Sorry"
Will just lifted his hand wordlessly as a means of goodbye, confused but mainly irritated that she was suddenly leaving in this dramatic rush for no apparent reason and turning back to his students with raised eyebrows as the door blew shut behind her.
"Anyone else gotta leave, or shall we start rehearsing?"
Back at her classroom, Santana barely made it through the door before the hot tears spilled over, coursing down her cheeks as she hurriedly pushed her way in, terrified that someone would see her and expect an explanation.
She felt ridiculous.
She was crying, actually crying, because some stupid teenage Bieber lookalike had sung a song to Brittany, her favourite student, and she'd just had to sit by and watch.
She sniffed, sitting down heavily in her chair, almost laughing that she was still referring to Brittany as simply her 'favourite student' even in her mind. It was such a difficult situation. Even in the privacy of her brain she couldn't rationalise it.
Letting her head drop into her hands she squeezed her eyes tightly, trying to stop the outpouring of emotion and calm down a little before she got her things to go home. She needed to forget about this. It was ruining her life. Brittany seemed to be all she thought about these days and it was turning her into a crazy person. It wasn't healthy. She needed to-
At the sound of the door opening Santana looked up, lifting her head to see Brittany standing nervously a few metres away.
She inhaled sharply, her hands flying to her face, wiping under her eyes to swipe away any fallen tears and hurriedly pushing her hair back behind her ears, trying to compose herself.
"Brittany..why..what are you..what are you doing here? I just remembered suddenly in Glee club the work I had to..to finish, so that's why I left, did you, uh, did you have something you needed? I'm kind of busy..I had to..to come back.."
She swallowed, embarrassed at how obviously flustered she was.
"Sorry.." She cleared her throat "Did you need something?"
The blonde hesitated before moving closer to Santana's desk, her expression worried.
"Are you ok?"
Santana blinked, swallowing again and hoping that Brittany didn't notice how strangled her voice sounded.
She ran a hand once again over her hair, smoothing it out and avoiding the blonde's concerned gaze, before repeating more firmly this time,
"It's just, you looked kind of upset when you left Glee..so..I came to see if you were ok?"
The sweetness of Brittany's concern tugged at Santana's heart, but despite feeling anything else than ok she nodded curtly.
"I'm fine thank you, but I really am busy, so you should go now"
Brittany looked wounded by the abrupt dismissal and the worry that had filled her soft blue eyes a moment ago quickly turned to hurt. She nodded mutely, turning to go but pausing for a second by the door to look back at Santana.
"Will I see you at Glee on Monday?"
The brunette looked up from the papers she had been pretending to busy herself with and met Brittany's stare with an unreadable expression.
"No, probably not"
Brittany looked down, her hand nervously playing with the door handle.
Her voice was heavy with disappointment,
"I was hoping you'd be there"
"Well, I'm sure your boyfriend will console you"
Brittany frowned in confusion,
"Sam.." the brunette replied bitterly "I didn't realise you two were so close"
Santana regretted the words as soon as they left her mouth but she couldn't stop herself, jealousy twisting angrily in her stomach and hurling the painful accusations at the shocked cheerleader in front of her.
"Sam?..He isn't my boyfriend"
"Well you could have fooled me"
She was aware of how ridiculous she sounded but the image of the two of them together in Glee club forced her to carry on.
Brittany watched in complete confusion, unsure of what to say.
"Do you…do you not like Sam or something?"
Santana shook her head impatiently,
"I don't care about Sam, it's not about Sam, Brittany"
"Well what is it about then?…I don't know what you're trying to say?"
"And I don't know why you and that idiot jock are suddenly singing love songs to each other"
Brittany's eyes were wide as Santana's voice got louder in anger,
"..what? I didn't know he was even going to…I don't-"
The teacher let out a noise of frustration,
"You know what? Just leave, just forget it, forget I said anything, just go"
But Brittany didn't move, her face still a mask of shock and confusion.
"Brittany just leave, I don't want to talk about this anymore"
The blonde paused for a second, trying to let it sink in, waiting for the conversation to make sense, before realising that without more of an explanation from Santana, it never would. So she measured her next words carefully, hoping her reasonable tone would calm her teacher down.
"You can't just say all of that..and then not explain"
Suddenly Santana brought her open hand down against the desk with a loud bang, making Brittany jump.
"I am your teacher, Brittany, I can do what I want.."
She took a second to straighten the papers she had disturbed with her hand before looking back at the frightened blonde girl and nodding to the door behind her.
"..and I would like you to leave"
There was a moment where Brittany contemplated leaving, but her curiosity quickly got the better of her and she shook her head, surprised by her own boldness.
"I don't want to leave"
"Brittany, leave me alone"
Santana tried to look affronted by her blatant defiance, but tears were springing to her eyes and she stared helplessly at the girl, desperate for her to leave but wishing she would stay, a thousand contradictory feelings threatening to make her head explode.
"Please.." her voice was starting to crack, tears almost choking her as she got unsteadily to her feet "Please, will you just leave?"
But the blonde ignored her, walking closer to Santana until they faced each other across the desk.
Her voice was soft,
"Why are you crying?"
Tears rolled openly down Santana's cheeks but she shook her head.
"I'm not, just go"
"Yes you are..and I'm not leaving"
"You have to"
Santana's voice was a whisper, her breath hitching in her throat as her eyes pleaded with Brittany.
"Please don't do this Brittany…you're making it so hard for me"
"Making what hard?…Ms. Lopez, I don't understand"
"Just tell me"
Santana sighed heavily, putting both hands to her face and covering her eyes as a quiet sob shook her body.
She sat down, seemingly haven given up on getting Brittany to leave and buried her face in her hands, dark waves of hair sprawling around her as she tried to hide her tears.
"Oh God Brittany….this is such a fucking mess"
After a short pause Santana spoke, her voice muffled by tears
"...the kiss at New Years, the hotel, today in Glee club, all of it Brittany...I can't do this"
At this her head came up, her expression desperate
"Don't call me Ms. Lopez...I hate it"
Brittany faltered, wanting so much to wrap her arms around the shorter woman but agonising over whether she would pushed away or not. She didn't think she could stand it if she was, so she hung back, hovering opposite her, unbearably unsure of what to do.
"Don't be...I'm just being stupid..."
"But I am sorry...I don't know what else to say"
Santana gave a weary laugh, leaving a long pause before speaking,
"Of course you don't...you're just a kid"
She wiped a shaky hand across her eyes, streaking her skin black with wet mascara and let out a deep sigh,
"You should leave now"
Brittany could feel her own eyes welling up as she shook her head, the movement feeling heavy, like pushing through water.
"Stop telling me to leave"
Santana got up, finally having regained some control of her emotions and moved round the desk, taking Brittany's wrist gently with her hand and tugging her towards the door with a trembling smile.
"If you just left then I wouldn't have to keep asking you"
Ignoring her weak attempt at a joke, Brittany pulled her arm out of the woman's grip and took a step back.
"What about all of this? Everything you said?"
Santana shook her head sadly,
"It doesn't matter. I let my emotions get the better of me, and I'm sorry, I'm so sorry Brittany"
"But what are you sorry for?..You never explain. I have no idea how you feel, because you never tell me"
"That's because I'm your teacher"
"You're not just my teacher, you're more than that"
"It doesn't matter"
The blonde could feel her lip trembling and she bit down, trying hard not to cry.
"So what?...We're just going to forget it happened, again? Like everything else"
The brunette paused, her voice shaky as she finally voiced the idea that had been coming to her more and more frequently in the past few weeks. She had avoided it at first but now it seemed like the only option and she offered it to the blonde tentatively, trying to convince herself it would make them both happier, that it was sensible.
"I think I'm going to have to quit"
Brittany's eyes widened, a few tears spilling free as she digested Santana's words.
"It's for the best. Then we can both forget about this...about whatever 'this' is...I can't concentrate when I'm around you Brittany...every time I see you I forget that this isn't right...I forget that you're just a girl and my feelings just-"
"I don't want you to leave"
The blonde's voice was barely above a whisper as she moved closer to Santana, reaching out to pull the woman towards her until they were close enough to see the teardrops on each others eyelashes. Heart beating like thunder, she wrapped her arms slowly around the brunette's waist, keeping her hold firm as she met with resistance.
Brittany dipped her head, silent tears still running down her cheeks and hesitated for a second to stare into deep brown eyes, pleading silently before pressing her damp lips tenderly to Santana's, whimpering as they touched.
She leant in again, placing soft butterfly kisses on the woman's full mouth, breaking the connection only to repeat her whisper again.
Feeling the tension go out of the woman's body, she deepened the kiss, running her tongue gently along until she felt some reciprocation, sweet lips moving softly against hers, the moment only ruined by fresh tears spilling from Santana's eyes, running down her face and falling onto their lips.
Brittany broke away, staring at the woman sadly,
Santana laughed quietly,
"You're crying too"
The blonde smiled, but her eyes looked pained
"Because I'm scared that you'll leave and I'll never see you again...what about you? Are you crying because you don't want to quit?"
She sounded desperately hopeful and the brunette leaned in slowly, pushing herself up to reach the taller girl and pressing their lips firmly together, savouring the taste before pulling back and regarding the blonde earnestly.
"I'm crying because I don't think I can"
I haven't proof read. I'll do it in the morning. Sorry if it's a bit shit.
If you're annoyed that it's taken me so long to update, and I know that's a lot of you judging by the messages, then I am sorry but it's not like I'm forcing you to read it. I don't get paid to do this, I do have a real life as well and this is meant to be fun. You're making it less fun. So if you do feel like sending me a message saying you're losing interest etc then just don't, because it makes me want to stop writing altogether and it's annoying. I know these characters mean a lot to people and I appreciate that, but we are all the same team, we all love Brittana. So stop being crazy.
But to everyone else, thank you for reading, I love ya.