Summary: If you were given the chance to start over in the one place you never thought you'd end up… would you take it? If you got the chance to fall in love with the one person you didn't think you'd ever see again, but your heart never forgot… would you?

my tumblr is summerkid12 if you want to see more about this story, as I posted a few teasers and what not. enjoy :) review if you feel so inclined. kisses.

Once Upon a Time

July, 2001

It's still pretty warm outside, but for a summer night in Knox City, Texas it would be referred to as a cool night. The sun has long set, cars no longer passing the service road just beyond the bay window of Linda Lopez's home and inside is relatively silent. Relatively, because other than sound sleeping adults and a tiny dog on his pillow at the foot of Aunt Linda's bed fast asleep, two soft voices of little girls mingle around the living room, mixing in with the quiet.

The two girls, one dark haired and the other blonde, lay on their backs underneath a coffee table with a thin blue sheet covering it up. Other than the lights from the night's sky, full moon and stars, two beams of light can be seen sneaking through the thin fabric of the sheet. They giggle when their flashlights clink together; Aunt Linda let them play with the metal ones she kept in the shed out back usually used for camping.

Inside the cocoon built by seven year olds, the girl's share a pillow that fits perfectly between the legs of the abnormally large coffee table. A blanket, meant to cover them has become long forgotten, scrunched up down at their feet as they continue to move their hands in front of the lights to make shapes under the top of the table.

The blonde girl brings the tip of her index finger to her lips, this gets the dark haired girl excited because she knows this is the tell tale sign of a story coming. Her friend always has a story to tell that she is either retelling or one that she has made up, she secretly hopes it's the latter because the girl beside her has the best imagination. She lowers her flashlight in preparation and the other girl's soon slips from her grip as well, falling to her stomach softly.

"Once upon a time," The blonde starts with a small smile forming on her lips and a twinkle in her eye that can be seen regardless of the dim light. "In a land very far away."

"No," The dark haired girl interrupts, turning her head to the side and tapping her friend with the end of her flashlight. "It's 'in a land far, far away'." She corrects with a nod, much like her mother does when she uses the wrong words or phrases. The blonde girl scrunches her nose and her brow furrows.

"Isn't that the same thing?" She asks in return with a shrug of her shoulders. The dark haired girl purses her lips together, tapping them lightly as she ponders her friend's question.

"Very far away is like, from Aunt Linda's to Carmel's." The dark haired girl explains, using her hands to emphasize her point. "Far, far away is like, from Aunt Linda's to my house." Her eyes go wide and the blonde wordlessly mouths 'oh' and nods in understanding.

"That's far." She breathes out, her friend nodding.


"Okay, ahem," The blonde clears her throat dramatically, preparing to start over and the dark haired girl gets ready to hear the story now that those details are out of the way. "So, once upon a time, in a land far, far away there lived a beautiful princess with pretty, dark hair. And she was happy cause she smiled all the time. Especially when she visited her princess friend who lived in another far, far away land." The look on the other girl's face stops her and her own smile drops.

"Britt, there can't be two princesses and two far, far away lands." The dark haired girl explains in exasperation.

"Says who?" The blonde curiously inquires, her expression looking much like before when she was told it was 'far, far away'. The dark haired girl shrugs her shoulders once more, her eyes looking around the tiny confines of their little hut.

"I don't know, Disney never has two princesses." She reasons. The blonde however shakes her head and waves her off.

"Well, this is my story and it has two pretty princesses who live in two far, far away lands and… and…" The blonde gets a bit flustered with having to defend her story, but the warm hand on her arm stills her and she glances over to find brown eyes and a smile.

"Okay Britt, so, what happens next?"

Welcome to Hell

August, 2011

It's a normal night in the city. The sidewalks are mostly vacant except for the few stragglers heading home from the night shift, some random going to or coming from a bar or club and the sounds of taxis far off into the heart of the city fade into a beautiful background noise. Santana loves this about the city.

She can always depend on the sound of Mr. Brinkley next door letting his stupid, little, yappy dog out at the same time every single night to bark for an hour. The same two loud trucks cruise up and down her street two or three times until finally picking up whoever it is they are picking up and the sound of doors closing and music blasting quiets as they pull away. And most importantly she knows that when she hears infomercials start playing from her mother's room down the hall she knows the coast is clear.

She turns around in her chair, away from her mirror and cranes her neck towards her open window which is at the front of her house. Just below and a few houses down, she can hear the steady hum of her getaway car and she grins to herself. To be fair, Santana didn't care if her mother was awake or not because she goes out regardless. But sneaking out through her window is so much more fun.

Turning her attention back to the mirror she smacks her lips together holding the applicator to her lip gloss close by, but it's perfect and she shrugs at this fact not at all surprised. She twists the cap back on and tosses the makeup unceremoniously into a small clutch and then tip toes to her closet to pick up her favorite heels letting them dangle from her fingers.

These are the times she enjoys the fact that her father doesn't live here anymore and that her brother is a lazy piece of shit because she doesn't have to figure out how to remove the screen from her window seeing as it hasn't been put back into place since the summer going into the ninth grade. With that being a fleeting but recurring thought she steps out onto the roof just outside of her window. The shingles feel grainy under her bare feet and she curls her toes downwards to keep herself from falling off of the roof, again. Granted, she recalls, she was pretty blazed that time but still, she takes her time making her way across the roof until coming up to the flat part of the garage that nobody uses.

Stepping down onto its flat surface she walks over a few cigarette butts and empty packs, seems her mother is smoking again. At the far edge of the garage roof lays a small ladder she carefully hid out of sight and quickly sets it up for her departure. Clutch under her arm and shoes still in her hand she makes her way down the ladder and then pulls it down laying it down under a patch of bushes separating her house from her neighbors.

Without another thought she jogs towards the waiting car and hops into the front being welcomed by a cloud of smoke. Puck eyes her up and down, a smirk on his lips and she slaps his arm and rolls her eyes telling him 'to get a life' and that 'it's so not gonna happen'. He shakes his head, chuckling to himself with a blunt hanging from his lips as he pulls away from the curb and begins to take them to their destination.

Once they hit the parkway and her shoes are on her feet, strapped perfectly around her ankles and she's reapplied her lip gloss she reaches forward to pop the glove compartment and grabs the half filled bottle of Jack Daniel's. Truth is she's already buzzed from the Bacardi bottle she'd polished off after dinner but more liquor couldn't hurt. Puck comments that she better save some for him but she merely grunts as the alcohol coats her throat.

The ride is typically quiet. She and Puck don't talk much on the way to events. Talking was only prevalent after the fact, because then they had something to actually talk about. She hopes that the night isn't a bust and that she'd have to turn to Puck to get her mack on. There are only so many times she can explain to him that just because she fucks him doesn't mean she's into him.

She knows he isn't looking for a relationship and he understands her love of the single life, playing the field and what not. All Noah Puckerman is ever interested in is a steady lay and for a while Santana was that girl, until she wasn't which happened to be the day she had finally realized how much her and Puck actually had in common, an affinity and appreciation of the female body, preferably the naked form of the female body that is.

But of course, like any teenage boy, he thinks it's hot and that they should totally have threesomes. And of course being a confused teenage girl needing any kind of acceptance she agreed, at least she did once. That's all it took for her to realize that she was straight up and down, left and right gay. But when the time arises and she's left high and not so dry she will settle for any kind of friction between her legs.

"There better be some hot and willing bitches at this party." Santana sighs after a long sip from the bottle and glances down at the clock on the dashboard, estimating their time of arrival.

"All I know is that my cousin said there's gonna be chicks, drugs, alcohol and music." Puck wriggles his eyebrows suggestively. "If that's not a recipe for success then I don't know what is." He shrugs and leans his arm onto the center console separating him and his female companion. She rolls her eyes, takes another swig and twists the cap back on letting the bottle rest between her thighs.

"You seriously need to stop paying attention in English." She mutters causing him to grin and laugh through his nose noting on his smart sounding reasoning.

With girls and drugs on her mind she wondered where the night would take her again. She definitely wanted to get her mack on but the dilemma, which was almost every night, where to go to get it on. Once she had brought a girl back to Puck's car and when the girl was going down on her Puck jumped in the front with one of his loser friends. She never saw that girl again, not that she had planned on it.

Another time they happen to run into girls from their school and after one too many one of the girl's started getting handsy with Santana. Never one to give up an opportunity to get her grope on she brought her back to her house. The next morning was mortifying to say the least. After the girl left her house her mother asked her if she was a lesbian. At sixteen years old that question sounds more like an accusation and accusations normally come with consequences. So of course Santana adamantly denied such a thing.

Even still she hasn't come out to her mother although she is quite certain the woman knows by now, especially if the steady flow of different girl's leaving her bedroom is anything to go on. So nowadays Mrs. Lopez doesn't ask anything and Santana keeps to herself, which she would do whether she's asked or not.

She's not ashamed, anymore anyhow. But there's something about the way a parent looks at their child when they come out. In honesty Santana wouldn't know the look since she's still in the proverbial closet but she's seen movies and all of those shows that have the gay characters practically shunned and whatnot. So she just feels it's better to keep her personal life the way it is, personal. Plus, she has a few friends that she can talk to about her gay lifestyle.

Pucks car coming to a stop and the engine shutting off brings her out of her thoughts. She looks up and spots bright lights and a ton of people walking around, or at least trying to walk around and she smiles widely. Her hand goes up to the visor, pulling it down and flipping open the mirror to give herself one last look, running a finger over her perfectly shaped eyebrow.

"Here, finish this." She says to him, pushing the almost empty bottle of Jack into his waiting hands.

The party is in an open field just outside of the city, only a few miles more east and they'd be in the more dangerous part of town. It didn't matter much to them though, seeing as they lived right smack in the middle of the bad part of the city and then the even worse part of the city. They always laughed when people asked where they're from because The Heights was just as ghetto as the rest of the city but was looked at as the more posh of the neighborhood.

The field is set up with speakers, back of SUV's open sporting alcohol while other vans are set around the surroundings with little teens trying to sell drugs for their dealers. Music blared out into the open air, not even caring that they were actually in the middle of town with houses nearby. Nobody cared and that's what made these parties great.

As soon as the duo gets within fifteen feet of the party they are handed party favors from four girls' they usually see every other night. They grin at one another and step up to the girls ready to get what they came for. With a pill under her tongue Santana reaches for one of the girl's cups, turning around and continuing to walk towards the crowd of people washing it down with the potent drink leaving Puck with the four chicks.

It seemed like forever until the pill started to kick in, she blames that on the Bacardi from her house and Puck's probably watered down Jack. But regardless, she's dancing in the middle of the field with some girl whose name she doesn't know and doesn't really care to. The girl's hands are snaking up her legs under her skirt and it only makes Santana step further into her. Lips are on her neck for a moment before they pull away and she spots something small and white on the girls tongue.

Soon enough that tongue and the little white pill are dancing in her mouth, moving to the beat of the music. Lights are going in and out, blues, purple, red, yellow, green and other various colors of the rainbow and she tilts her head back as the pill dryly slides down her throat. In all honesty, Santana isn't much of a pill popper or an X freak or looking to score any kind of drug. But some nights the high from some sort of narcotic other than alcohol just lets her forget and black out some of the poor judgment she makes through the night. And the hangover from a few tablets are less harsh as well.

Her eyes search the field and she spots Puck for the first time since she went off by herself. He is coming her way and is holding two bottles of alcohol he presumably swiped from one of the trucks. She grabs the girl she'd been dancing with by the arm and drags her in her friend's direction, meeting him halfway and grabbing the bottle from his hands and drinking it as though it were Gatorade.

Puck leans in and says something in her ear, she can't hear what he says but the way he spoke made it sound just as exciting so she nods and pulls the girl along with her. She's not paying much attention considering she's got a full bottle and a hot brunette pinned up against a black SUV that she's only now realized is not wearing any underwear. In the blink of an eye she feels her skin sticking and gliding over some sort of leather seat and when she looks around she picks up on the fact that she's in the back seat with the brunette straddling her. The vehicle is moving but all she can focus on is the fact that the girl sitting on her is grinding down on her, so she doesn't exactly notice that the back seat she is in is not Puck's back seat.

"Now, just tell me what you know." The detective looked down at the note pad in front of the girl on the other side of the table before making eye contact with her. She knew the drill, she'd seen more than enough episodes of Law and Order to know what he was getting at. The pad in front of her was for the confession he assumed she was going to be making and the pen to the right of that legal pad was the ink that would determine her fate.

"I told you dude, I don't know anything. I know as much as you do." She sighed out in frustration nudging the paper with her fingers, pushing it away from her to emphasize the fact that she wasn't going to be writing down any kind of admission to anything. She smirked at her comment though, seeing as the guy in front of her shifted in his uncomfortable metal chair. "Which is obviously a whole hell a lot of nothing." She leaned back into her equally uncomfortable chair but she wasn't going to show that it was digging into her bra strap and biting into her skin.

He tightens his lips, grunted a little bit and then nodded his head once, bringing his loose fists to rest under his chin. He glanced over his shoulder, making eye contact with his own reflection in the mirror behind him oh so obviously having some sort of invisible conversation with whoever was standing on the either side of that window. His partner, his boss, perhaps someone else that she didn't know but she knew what was going on.

Her buzz is still dancing in and around her veins, her heart is pounding but not due to the bright lights and the shield she had been glancing at every so often, it was moving to the music that was still beating heavily in her ears. She licks her lips, still being able to taste the liquor from the pre-game drinks on the ride there as well as the after taste in the back of her throat of whatever pill it was that that girl had slipped onto her tongue. She clears her throat, suddenly regaining his attention and he brings his hands, still clasped together, onto the table and twiddles his thumbs and she chuckles at the sight. It's not funny, only it is especially considering what she had gotten herself into through the evening and how she was undoubtedly going to get away with it without so much as a slap on the wrists.

It wouldn't be the first time and she figures it most definitely isn't going to be the last time she sees the inside of this room. In fact she has almost grown accustomed to these small rooms with pale walls and authority figures sitting in front of her demanding explanations for her actions. She assumes it will just be yet another tally on her record but, she is still a minor, a juvenile which she knows that once she is of age that shit gets tossed anyway, as though her past as a 'criminal' never existed, simply erased with the quick tap of a button. She is young and being within code, socially acceptable by following the rules is so boring, especially in this city. The only thing to do is to do shit that gets you in trouble. It is an adrenaline rush, maybe it's the reason she pulled this crap. It is the feeling of probably and most likely getting away with it with only the hint of getting caught that makes her do the things she does.

The guidance counselor at school said she is a typical kid crying for help. That she is clearly running with a bad crowd due to some under developed emotional capacity or some other bullshit she spewed during a parent teacher conference. She hasn't really heard much, thanks to the flask she keeps in her locker, oh yeah, she got caught with that too. But this is why excuses were invented. 'It wasn't mine' is the easiest one to use, seeing as Noah Puckerman had been caught drunk on campus more than a handful of times prior to her incident. That and the fact that her parents are divorced and they both try to be 'the better parent' they are always doing whatever they can to outdo the other and taking her side and her word for it is a given even if she is as guilty as sin.

"Well since you're not going to talk and you're obviously in no shape to have an actual discussion of tonight's events, which just to let you know, we've been informed that you were in fact involved. You are going to have to stay overnight and see a judge in the morning." That rips her right out of the drug, alcohol and gloating haze she has been swimming in. Her head snaps up and her eyebrows furrow.

"Stay? Wait, judge?" Her voice echoes off of the peeling white paint that was so faded she can see the blue paint underneath from the 1970's. "What the hell? I'm just a kid." She states, as though that is her get of jail free excuse.

His lips purse and he grabs her file and the legal pad, taps them onto the table to even them out and sort them together. He shrugs his shoulders and shakes his head.

"It's out of my hands now and tomorrow morning, a judge will look over your case file and decide what we're going to do with you." He explains in an even tone with just a hint of irritation that he can't crack the code of this teenage girl. Her head turns, but her eyes remain on the guy across from her and she slams her hands onto the table.

"That is some bullshit. I can't stay here over night. Criminals stay in fuckin places like this." She spits out, her face contorting into different expressions as the information processes in her brain. "I thought my juvenile records are sealed."

"Your records are sealed when you are of age. But right now, you're still a minor and these things," He motions to the rather large manila file. "Are still relevant." Her mouth flies open, sucking in air and holding in for a long period of time until it comes out with small strangled whines. "We've notified your parents." His eyes leave hers at the mention of her parents and he clears his throat as he pushes his metal chair back, making it screech across the tiles, and stands up. "They are going to be at the courthouse tomorrow."

The door opens and a woman appears, she tries to look sympathetic to the young girl but there's also a look of disappointment. Probably a look she's given over a thousand times, but each and every time it probably looks like the first time she did it. She can only imagine that's the look her mother got when she received the phone call from the precinct at 3:24am. She wouldn't know, her mother never gives her those looks, probably for the fear of her daughter cutting her out and favoring her father over her.

"Santana." The woman says and Santana looks between her and the officer who turns around and waves his hand for her to get up. She complies, pushing the chair along the tile just as he did moments before.

"This is Jane, she will be taking you to the holding cell that you will be staying in for the night." The officer nods to the woman beside him before turning and walking away with the file of indiscretions Santana had committed. The woman watches Santana go through everything happening to her letting her gain her bearings.

"Come on sweetie." Jane says softly, reaching her hand out to place it on the small girl's shoulder but is quick to pull it back when Santana jerks away. "You will be in a cell by yourself so don't worry about the other girls." Before she leads the young girl out she points to the spot she had been sitting at at the table. "Don't forget your shoes Santana."

Santana looks over her shoulders to find she had pretty much forgot about her three-inch, four hundred and fifty dollar stilettos her father had gotten her for her birthday two months ago. In a way she wants to leave them there because she is pretty pissed off that she has to stay in some shit whole cell for the night, or rest of the night's hours anyway, to show her dad a thing or two for not coming to get her. But truth be told, those shoes were beautiful and she doesn't have it in her to leave them behind to make a statement to her clearly horrible parents.

She stands there, at a small table that looked like it belonged in someone's basement that has long since been forgotten and is used for the sole purpose of folding laundry on. Her hands, clasped behind her back, are sweating and she can't figure out if it's from her hangover or the way the judge is rolling her eyes as she reads over Santana's file. The gowned woman sighs as she flips page to page to page, every now and again glancing up to the young girl standing before as though in shock that these pages have anything to do with her. Santana's skirt is still perfectly smoothed out as it had been the night before, not one crease in it since she refused to place any part of her body onto that cot that was set up against the wall in her cell. Her hair, though messy, had that I just had some great sex look, so needless to say she pretty much looked like a street walker. The dark make up smudged around her eyes didn't deviate from that image she was sure she was exuding in the court room.

As badly as she wants to, she can't find it in her to turn around. Her parents are behind her, she knows it. Her mother sitting to her left, the only woman sniffling in the entire room, most likely clutching a Kleenex she pulled from her chest. Her father to her left, probably rolling his eyes as he tries to ignore his newest twenty year old conquest, Patti. They got married three years ago, had a kid and ever since Patti has detested Santana's very existence. Oh, yeah that was another excuse her mother liked to use for her daughter's bad decision making. Santana just let her think that. Truth was, she could give two fucks about Patti and her feelings. Patti was a bitch and it was clear as day, her father was just too exhausted and felt like he was too old to continue his search for love. So he put up with that brat's shit, even if it did mean he had to listen to her bad mouth his eldest daughter.

"Santana, you refuse to discuss the events of last night but to be honest I think that at this point even adding last night to your file would be moot." The judge intertwines her own fingers, resting her hand onto the folder in front of her and eyeing down the girl. "To be frank I don't see why further action has not been taken before." Santana can hear her lawyers mouth open but Judge Judy is totally all over that before any words come out. "I understand you have... connections." She says with disdain, glancing over Santana's shoulder, to her right and Santana knows her father is most likely avoiding eye contact with the woman in charge. "But this type of behavior is unacceptable no matter whose daughter you are." Santana tears her eyes from the judge and sucks in her lips.

"With that in mind, I believe it would do you some good and society some good if you had some restrictions, rules that apparently you either don't follow or do not have set for you." She hands the files over to her clerk and starts rustling through some papers. "I had originally decided that an ankle bracelet be in place." Santana's eyes shoot up, her eyebrows scrunching together and her lips parting. "However, I had a long discussion with someone siding on your behalf and felt that it would not be in your best interest to be stuck at home all day every day for the next six months." Santana let's out a sigh of relief, her shoulders falling comfortably. "Instead, you will be staying in Texas with your aunt." Just as before her head snaps back up at the judge, confusion all over her face. "While there, you will have someone there keeping tabs on you and your aunt will be writing reports about your efforts and success there."

Santana cannot believe her ears. This was not happening.

She sat in the passenger side seat of her mother's car while her parent's stood a few feet away. She couldn't hear what they were saying but taking in the frantic hand gestures they were most likely fighting. Her mother was visibly upset and her father had that face on that he wore when he thought he was right. Patti stood a few feet away from them not even caring about anything going on around her, every few seconds looking down at her very expensive wrist watch and tapping her foot impatiently.

Santana rolls her eyes at the sight of her stepmother. She really was just a wretch of a woman, Santana could not stand to look at her and the only thing that seemed exciting about this sudden and abrupt move to Texas was the distance put between her and that chick. But other than that, the idea of leaving her home, her city, and her friends well that royally pissed her off. She figured she could have totally rocked that ankle bracelet and was quite confident that would have only lasted a week or two anyway.

The ride home was excruciatingly quiet, minus the random sighs of disappointment slipping over her lips. But she does her best to keep her focus on the scenery passing her by too afraid to look over at her mother and see the look that Jane had given her the night before.

"I'm not going." Santana announces once inside the confines of their home, her mother shutting the front door behind them. "That broad is insane if she thinks she's gonna send me to some hick town, like that's gonna rehabilitate me?" She slams her hands on her hips and stomps her foot on the ground as she watches her mother wander through the kitchen. "Do you really think that me going to stay with Aunt Linda is gonna change anything?" She shouts trying to get some attention from the woman in front of her. After silent seconds a cabinet swing shut, hard wood against hard wood and Santana's eyebrows dart up and her body tenses. Her mother takes in a deep breath and spins around eyeing her daughter.

"What would you prefer Santana?" The older woman challenges and Santana suddenly forgets words in the English language. "Staying here clearly isn't working. You just keep getting worse and worse and I…" Her mother shakes her head and shuts her eyes tight. "I just don't know what to do with you anymore. You don't talk to me, you're gone all hours of the night and all you do is hang around those kids who are no good." She points at her daughter and moves to the refrigerator. "It's like I don't even know you." She sighs out.

"Like you ever did." Santana says under her breath. "So I get in trouble because they are bad influences?" She thinks that maybe she can play the woe is me card, that maybe if she plays victim that her mother will soften up and smarten up. See the light that sending her precious baby far, far away will only cause more pain and help no one in the end.

"Santana," She says softly, her hand playing with the handle of the refrigerator door. "You are old enough to make your own decisions and old enough now to know right from wrong." She clenches her jaw and avoids eye contact knowing that if she does she will fall to her daughter's spell and get reeled in like she always does. "Your father…"

"My father?" Santana yells walking further in to the kitchen, putting her hands on the counter. "Now he's my father? I see how it is, when decisions are made and I'm pissed it's his fault. Just admit it you don't want me around just like he doesn't and now you guys finally have the opportunity to make that happen." Her throat is scratchy now from the shouting but she doesn't care and she takes in a deep breath ready to fire out some more harsh words.

"No, we both made the decision." Mrs. Lopez turns around, hands on her hips matching her daughter's previous stance. "You need to get away, get away from those kids who are only bringing you down. You're not making good choices and one of these days you're not going to be a kid anymore. You need to grow up and be the Santana I used to know." She steps towards the counter, just another thing separating her from her daughter. "You should start packing." Her eyes lower.

"Whe… when am I leaving?" Santana's voice cracks and her resolve is beginning to crumble. This is all too real now.

"In five hours." She says calmly, forcing her words through the lump in her throat but that fact does not flash on Santana's radar. "Your father and I are going to drive you there." Santana opens her mouth to object but her mother puts her hand in the air to stop her daughter. "The judge thought it would be best if we did this quickly." She can feel her daughter's emotions. The anger, the fear and the sadness but it's the only way.

"And driving is quick? I'd rather walk myself there than sit in a car ride with you two." She rolls her eyes in clear irritation. "This is so fucked up. I can't…" She first tries to use her anger but being upset wins over and before she knows it she has tears trailing down her cheeks. "You all fuckin suck anyway. Whatever." She kicks the bottom cabinet and marches out of the room and stomps up the stairs, the slamming of her bedroom door reverberating throughout the whole house.

Santana, her mother and her father drove silently through most of the city, then most of the rest of the state and then through a few more states until her mother decided to make small comments here and there. Her father for the most part remained silent every now and again grunting as an answer to whatever question or random thing her mother said.

"It will be nice to see all your old friends." Mrs. Lopez says, turning her head halfway to glance at her daughter her merely scowls at the older woman.

"I don't have friends in the sticks." She bites back catching her father glare at her through the rearview mirror.

"Well that's not true Santana, you used to play with those two girls all the time in the summer." Her mother points out as she starts rifling through her bag. "You and those two blonde girls, running around in the grass, playing in the dirt," She smiles to herself at the memory, it's sad but it's still a smile.

"I haven't seen them since I was twelve." Santana mutters, clearly annoyed that her mother is dragging her into a conversation. "I'm sure they don't remember me. I barely remember them." She adds as an afterthought.

"Oh don't be silly of course they do." Mrs. Lopez assures her, regardless that her statement is purely possibility rather than fact. She shifts in her seat and tosses a small photograph book on her daughter's lap. "You look at those pictures and tell me they weren't your friends." She smiles softly at her daughter before turning her attention forward. "Brittany and Quinn." She announces loudly, suddenly remembering both of the girls' names while Santana slowly opens the photo book analyzing the pictures of her youth. "You and Brittany, the girl from up the road," She nudges her ex-husband to agree with her that Brittany was indeed the girl from up the road although Santana always referred to her as the girl from 'down' the road. He nods, even though he probably isn't listening. "You two were inseparable, I swear, we couldn't get you two to leave one another's side." Mrs. Lopez recalls. "And you were always being mean to that little boy. Well, he was kind of a giant for a ten year old but still. Why were you so mean to him?" Santana shrugs not giving her mother an answer and continues to look over the pictures of her and the two little girls she always thought she would know forever. She knows why she used to be mean to that stupid kid, Finn fucking Hudson, she'll never forget the way he used to make fun of Brittany.

Santana has never been to the desert but if she were dropped here blindfolded she would assume that is where she was. Everything from what she can see is all dirt and nothingness, miles and miles of dirt roads to the left, to the right, behind her and in front of her. With the visions of all of that dust clouding around the car as they sped Santana hunched further into her seat, raised the volume on her iPod and closed her eyes for this clearly could not be reality and she was desperate to believe that 'Inception' was not just a movie a concept.

If the sign they'd driven by back at a set of toll booths didn't inform her of their arrival in Texas, the sand dunes and dead plant life sure did. All she can think as her music plays deafening loud into her ear, is that this trip to Aunt Linda's used to be the thing she waited for all year. She and her brother would sit in the back of whatever car or minivan they had at the time, play the license plate game, 'I spy' and every other car game ever invented or thought up by them.

Santana tries not to remember a few hours ago when they'd driven through Tennessee and passed the diner off of the small town's 'city'. She desperately did her best to fall asleep through Tennessee purposely to avoid setting eyes on the place, but of course nothing seems to be going her way at all these days. It looked the same, she muses, shaking her head to the beat of the next song that comes on her iPod trying not to look like she is remembering the 'good times'.

She did the pity thing for a while. Getting her parents to do whatever she wanted with a small pout, a tear here and there and even a temper tantrum. But, just like their marriage, they eventually stopped trying with her too. It got to the point where she'd gotten in trouble so many times that making 'daddy' feel bad for leaving 'mommy' just wasn't an excuse they accepted any longer.

Fuck that diner, she thinks to herself.

When she was nine, her brother puked in the parking lot of that diner and then when he was feeling better, they went in for pancakes. Which, now that she thinks about it, is kind of fucking disgusting. When she was five, even though she really doesn't remember, apparently she told a man that he needed to stop staring at her mother's legs because it was rude. According to Gloria, the waitress who worked there for forever, told them that man never returned. When she was ten, her parents let her get the big banana split for breakfast because she was sick on her birthday a few weeks prior and never got to enjoy birthday cake.

When she was twelve, they stopped at that diner on the way home from Aunt Linda's. When she was twelve, her parents told her and her brother that they were going to be living in different places for a little while. They explained that mommy and daddy still loved them, but that they had to fix some things between them. She may have been twelve, but even as she stared at them, her fork sitting still in her eggs and bacon, she knew it was over.

Fucking diner.

Mr. Lopez pulls onto yet another dirt road and the new bumps and jolts of the vehicle startle Santana and her eyes pry open in curiosity. This road, unlike the others seemed to lead up to a small house a few feet away. Of course she recognizes it straight away. It's a little bit more worn down or worn in, whatever, than she remembers it but it's still relatively just the same as the last time she saw it. She scrunches her eyebrows and eyes up the not so new place that would be her pseudo home for a few months.

The last time she was at this house was the last time her family was at this house, together. Happy and smiling faces and so many things that were seemingly ancient memories of a time that once was. She barely remembers what those happy faces looked like because she rarely if ever saw them. Her mother never laughed like she used to when they'd have barbeques at Aunt Linda's and her father didn't grin with that glimmer in his eye as he looked at his wife through the fire pit at the towns yearly summer carnival. Her brother was off at college, quick to get as far away from the rest of the Lopez's when he was given the chance and he only visits on holidays… Christmas and that's it.

If anything this place merely brought back the feelings of a broken child's heart and she was not about to dwell on those emotions for more than a nanosecond, she has better things to do than be the typical over emotional teenage girl. So instead of getting misty eyed at her childhood memories flashing through her mind some more, she sits up in her seat, rolls her eyes and huffs at the idea that she would be living country for the entirety of her senior year.

The driveway isn't as long as she remembers it being, in fact it's actually pretty short and more wide than anything. Aunt Linda, she realizes now, has no front yard and her eyes dart around just looking for a spare tire to be propped up on something like the house that would only scream out 'white trash'. Of course she doesn't find it but what she does spot is her Aunt standing on the bottom step of her front porch with one arm across her stomach and the other in the air waving at them.

Santana presses her lips together, takes in a deep breath and lets it come through her nose, shaking her head ever so slightly. She loves her Aunt Linda and all but this is beyond bogus, house arrest is much more suitable for someone of her stature. She deserves that atrocious accessory, she earned that accessory but instead she's stuck in the middle of Farmville USA. Santana is convinced that this is what would be considered cruel and unusual punishment.

When the car comes to a stop she pulls out her ear buds and turns her iPod off not wanting to have to deal with her mother or father telling her to do so. Even without the music blaring in her ears there is no way she is going to listen to anything they have to say anyway. The three Lopez's get out of the car to greet the fourth who is making her way down to meet them. Mr. Lopez hugs his sister quickly and without much emotion and Santana doesn't do much to stifle a laugh at his lack of capacity to feel much of anything anymore. Her mother and her aunt share pleasantries from what she can gather but she doesn't make a lot of eye contact with the adults her are ruining her life.

"Welcome Santana." Aunt Linda says sweetly which breaks through to the youngest Lopez, who looks up at her aunt but does not offer a smile.

"Where am I staying?" She asks as she slings her bag over her shoulder and reaches down to take the suitcase from her father's feet. Aunt Linda is a little taken aback by her straight forwardness but nods nonetheless and pointing over her shoulder with her thumb she tells her niece that she's staying in the 'usual room'. Adjusting the bag in her hand Santana nods and makes her way up the steps.

"Aren't you going to say…" Her mother starts to say but is cut off by the sound of the screen door shutting behind her daughter and she shakes her head. Aunt Linda sighs, glancing over her shoulder for a moment before looking back at her sister-in-law.

"She'll be fine, don't worry." She tries to offer but the hopeless look on Mrs. Lopez's face tells her that her platitudes do nothing to calm her or rid her of the sorrow in her heart. Mr. Lopez clears his throat getting the attention of the two women in his presence.

"We better get going if we want to get home by late tomorrow night, as long as we drive in shifts." He announces and turns to head back towards the car. "Thank you again Linda, I really owe you one." He says to his sister before retreating into the driver's seat and waits for his ex-wife to follow.

"Watch over her." Mrs. Lopez pleads softly and Linda's heart cracks a little at the sight of the woman she had once considered practically her sister by blood, she still did. "She's more fragile than she lets on." The older woman admits, her head hanging a little and she sighs turning back towards the car.

Linda awkwardly watches them leave and she can't help but wonder what she had gotten herself into. She knew the divorce was bad, the kids didn't take it well and that her Karen, her sister-in-law, was still rather broken from everything that has happened since. Twisting her lips in thought and memories she turns around and makes her way back into her house to find her new edition.

"This is fuckin' ridiculous." Santana huffs tossing her bag onto the bed that's been told is hers.

But it's not her bed, her bed is back in Massachusetts at her mother's house where all her other shit is. She places her hands on her hips and allows her eyes to travel the expanse of the room. Her head shakes and she can't fight the tiny chuckle of annoyance that escapes her lips. Her thoughts being on the idea that Harry Potter had a bigger room in that goddamn cupboard.

It was different when she was a kid, this place was her kingdom. When she got dirty and played in mud with her brother and the other kids in the area. The other kids, she remembers, were alright but the possibility of them even remembering her was doubtful. They saw each other every single day and Santana and her family had stopped coming to Aunt Linda's since her parent's divorce which was when she was twelve years old. Besides, the actual town part of this place was well over three miles away so it wasn't like she was going to 'run into' anyone anytime soon.

"Santana I gotta take a ride into town, grab some things for supper." Linda says poking her head through the not closed door. Santana stares at her, as if waiting for some more words to come out but nothing does. So she shakes her head and flickers her eyes around the room and shrugs her shoulders.


"Well come on I haven't got all day." Linda motions for her to follow her and disappears into the hallway.

"I don't wanna go." Santana tells her walking out into the hall and to the front door, arms crossed over her chest.

"You don't really have a say in that darlin'. I know we're blood and all and you're my goddaughter but, damn I ain't leaving you here all by yourself. Not on your first day here anyway." Linda laughs at the idea that this teenager really thought she'd be left alone, especially after being shipped here for being a badass. "We'll work up to that. Now let's go." Santana rolls her eyes and figures she is not going to win a fight with Aunt Linda, she's always been kind of tough.

Aunt Linda heads out to the car, Santana can tell that much by the sound of the squeaky screen door closing behind distancing footsteps. She lets out an exasperated sigh and looks straight ahead through the window in front of her. An eyebrow quirks and she tilts her head in wonder. Another thing she had thought was so much bigger was the distance between her aunt's house and the girl's house from up or down the road. It was actually about twenty to twenty five feet away, not really up or down the road at all. Stupid kid memories, she thinks to herself. Always thinking things are bigger, wider and more extravagant.

As it seems she can actually see most of the house next door and one of the windows proved that someone was in it, the light was on. Walking the few steps it takes to get to the window she leans forward and squints her eyes to try and get a better look. From the twenty or twenty five feet or more she can make out a figure moving around. The sound of the horn from her aunt's truck startles her away from the window but, for a moment she can swear she catches a glimpse of blonde.