SUMMARY: When hotshot assistant district attorney Santana Lopez got her heart broken years ago, she thought nothing, or no one for that matter could ever break her again. Well, that's until beautiful dancer Brittany S. Pierce comes back from Paris. Walls which had been built starts to crumble and feelings long buried begin to resurface.
DISCLAIMER: Just borrowing my favorite characters.
CHAPTER 1 BEAUTIFUL DANCER
An exhausted, young prosecutor entered as the door to the one-bedroom unit in an apartment complex at downtown LA was pushed open that rainy night. She wore a black skirt, crisp white blouse, and a black coat which she immediately took off, along with her four-inch stilettos. Without turning the lights on, she ventured her way into her apartment, loosening her white tie in the process. She carelessly tossed her briefcase towards her brown leather couch, too lazy to approach the living room.
Walking barefoot, she headed straight to the kitchen and immediately found a fresh bottle of water from the fridge. Feeling dehydrated, she drank the water up to the last drop. She had a very tiring, long day. Too many cases to deal with; it seemed impossible. While she managed to attend to all of her court hearings, meet with clients, and prepare her trial briefs, she was drained.
She just had her anniversary at the prosecutor's office, and yet, nothing in her life had changed. Well, except for her busy schedule. There didn't seem to be any progress in the financial aspect of her life. Not that she cared. Monetary gain wasn't what she was after when she decided she wanted to be a lawyer. She was earning enough, but she knew she wasn't going to get rich in public service. If she wanted to be rich, she just had to accept Noah's offer to make her a partner in his law firm.
As in Noah Puckerman.
Noah was almost her bestfriend. Surprising, but he was one of the best in their class; herself included, of course. And now that he was in private practice, he wouldn't stop in his efforts in trying to lure her into corporate law. Santana would love to work with Noah just like they worked together as students in law school, but she loved being a prosecutor too much. Right now, crossing sides had never crossed her mind.
But Noah assured her that the offer still stands. Anytime she wants to take it.
Santana couldn't help but smile at her friend's sincere gesture. Throwing the now empty bottle into the trash, she walked her back to the living room and let herself collapse on her couch. A rather tiny squeak escaped her mouth as her butt made contact with something hard that definitely wasn't part of her couch.
She was quite sure it wasn't her briefcase.
Curious, she reached for the lamp on her right, switched it on and lifted the offending article near the light for inspection.
It was a black pouch that certainly wasn't hers.
Dark eyebrows contorted as her eyes turned to the direction of her closed bedroom door.
"Quinn? You didn't tell me you're staying over." Santana assumed. She'd only given her key to her eight-month pregnant bestfriend just so she could stay anytime she pleased.
There was no answer from Quinn.
"Quinn?" She repeated.
Santana heaved a deep sigh. There was only one reason why Quinn preferred Santana's place over her own; her turbulent love life. Santana or any of their friends were not particularly fond of Quinn's ex-boyfriend Sam Evans, father of her child. It was a complicated relationship. When Quinn decided to leave him, he wouldn't stop bothering her. Santana had suggested a restraining order and was more than willing to help, but Quinn didn't think it was necessary.
Assuming that her bestfriend was currently wallowing and that Quinn needed her, Santana headed to her bedroom, reached for the doorknob and pulled it open.
Standing in front of her bedside table, staring at the only photo frame in there with her back turned on Santana wasn't Quinn. She was blonde, alright, but certainly wasn't her pregnant friend, Quinn Fabray.
It was Brittany S. Pierce.
And Brittany was still staring at the picture on the bedside table which so happened to be a picture of Santana and her.
"Britt..." She breathed out. Santana couldn't believe it. Even when she said her name, she couldn't believe Brittany was there, inside her room, staring at the picture of them together.
She wasn't supposed to see that picture.
Brittany who had been expecting her then turned around to face her. It had been a long time since they last saw each other or talked to each other for that matter, and now they stood in silence, both not knowing what to say.
Talk about awkward.
The phone rang.
Thankful for the distraction, Santana shook herself out of her trance and rushed to the telephone at the living room. Right after glancing at her caller ID, she immediately knew how Brittany got inside her home.
"You gave her the key that I gave you." Santana castigated Quinn as soon as she answered.
"I'm not even sure what you're talking about." Quinn tried to lie, but unlike a lawyer who can bluff, she was pretty much transparent.
"I gave it to you so you could get into my apartment anytime you need some space. But I don't remember authorizing you to give my key to anyone else who needs some space." Santana tried to lower her voice, making sure that Brittany wouldn't hear.
"Relax. It's not just anyone, it's Brittany. And she doesn't need some space. She needs some time." Quinn rolled her eyes and Santana could feel her bestfriend did just that from her side of the line.
"Some time with you."
"Because she's leaving tomorrow, Santana. She's finally leaving for Paris." Quinn revealed.
Santana felt like a bucket of cold water had been poured over her head. She was surprised at the effect of the news. She hadn't been talking or hanging out with Brittany for quite some time now, so, having this feeling surprised her. She had been pulling away to let go of her and now this.
It was obvious she hadn't really gotten over Brittany at all.
She felt pathetic.
"I know you've been trying to get over your small crush-"
"It isn't a crush." Santana firmly said.
"Well, it's better if you think of it that way because after tonight, you probably would never see her again. Look, I know what you've been struggling to do. And trust me, I know how hard it is to try to get over someone you feel so much for."
"So why is she here? Why did you send her here?"
"I didn't, I just helped her. Maybe she just wants to say goodbye."
Santana Lopez hated goodbyes.
Both of them fell in silence, before Quinn spoke again.
"Santana, just say goodbye, okay? It's just for tonight. Have dinner and some red wine. Watch a romantic movie. Maybe steal a kiss when you're drunk enough. At least you'd have something good to remember her by."
Santana contemplated for a while.
"Well, I don't want to be rude." The brunette gave in.
"Yeah, right, like you could ever be rude to her."
Santana just had to roll her eyes.
"Good night, Santana."
"Good night." Santana hung up, for a while thinking of what to say to Brittany who she realized was already standing by the door of her bedroom, leaning against the door frame, looking at her.
She must have been watching her.
Slightly embarrassed of the fact that Brittany might have heard what she had told Quinn over the phone, Santana felt a slight burning on her face. Then she remembered the reason why Brittany was here.
"You're leaving." It wasn't a question. But Santana needed confirmation.
"I've been waiting for this a long time. You know that even though we haven't been talking so much lately." Brittany pointedly said, holding her stare.
Santana was the first to look away, not knowing what to do or say next. She needed time to think, she needed space. This seemed to be happening so fast and it was only now that she realized that Brittany could still affect her. All those efforts of trying to move on and none of it worked.
She sighed. She needed another distraction and decided to get another bottle of water. Heading back to the kitchen, that was when she noticed what weren't there before, or maybe it had been there all this time, she just didn't notice without the candle light; the table set with dinner for two. She couldn't see the food, but it smelled good.
"I was hoping that we could have dinner together." Brittany now stood not so far behind. It was a touching effort, slightly romantic, but Santana knew better not to think or expect so much from it. It was just dinner, no matter how special it may appear to be. She and Brittany were just friends, they always had been just friends; friends who probably would never see each other again.
She felt a twinge of pain at the thought of not seeing Brittany. It wasn't like she had seen much of her in the recent months, but at least she was around. At least they were in the same city, in the same country.
Paris was a whole different story.
Brittany was moving from one continent to another.
"San?" Brittany called her out of her stupor.
"Yeah, of course." Since seeing Brittany that night, it was the first time that Santana allowed a smile to cross her face. She walked towards one of the chairs, while Brittany followed, occupying the seat just opposite hers.
Sitting with Brittany across her, Santana felt rather shy and awkward all of a sudden. Maybe it was the lack of contact or communication, or maybe it was the fact that she was here, alone with Brittany, them having a romantic dinner. It was foolish really, but she didn't know what to say. They were only supposed to eat, but she couldn't seem to know how to start either. Then she heard Brittany let out a short laugh; that laugh that she always found endearing. She looked up at her and noticed the glint in the dancer's eyes.
Brittany was genuinely amused.
"What?" Santana faked annoyance.
"Come on, dig in. Don't be shy. I know you're hungry." Brittany motioned for Santana to help herself with the food. Santana realized Brittany had used her fancy and never-used china and silver ware, but she didn't mind.
"I'm not shy. I just don't know if it's safe to eat these." Santana joked as she motioned to the sumptuous meal in front of her; a combination of steak, mashed potatoes, vegetables and red wine.
Brittany just watched Santana with a smile, not bothering with a response.
Santana felt her face burning even more. It was weird to have Brittany staring at her like this; she never did that before. And when Santana caught Brittany's eyes, both of them simultaneously looked away. Santana lifted her fork and knife and proceeded to cutting her steak, excited to have a taste of the blonde's cooking. Brittany returned to watching her, and the prosecutor tried to ignore the stare that was making her feel so self-conscious.
"So, how many of your friends did you share a special dinner with?" Santana lifted a curious eyebrow at the blonde.
"It doesn't matter." Brittany shrugged.
"It does to me."
"I just want to know my rank in your order of priority." Santana joked, never anticipating that Brittany would actually answer.
"It's just you."
It totally wasn't the answer she was expecting.
Santana stared gaping.
"You look shocked." Brittany looked in amusement then continued.
Santana shrugged in response, trying so hard to hide the fact that she was still feeling nervous under the dancer's unwavering stare.
"It's just you, San. Just you." Brittany spoke again.
Santana was surprised, suddenly feeling a glimmer of hope. But the lawyer immediately dismissed it as a work of her imagination. She knew better than giving a different meaning to the blonde's super friendly gestures. This was after all, Brittany Pierce, her straight friend who never lets anyone too close.
Santana took a bite.
"Mmm... Who cooked these?" Santana said, purposely steering the topic away.
"I'm offended." Brittany feigned hurt, but her eyes betrayed her.
"Who would have thought that you could cook anything other than water?" Santana smiled.
"So I'm not the domesticated type. It doesn't mean I can't follow instructions from a cook book." Brittany began slicing her own steak.
"I think it's safer to have my food delivered. Eating out isn't so bad either."
"You're worse than I am." Brittany laughed.
"Thanks." Santana smirked.
"How are you ever going to survive when you're married?"
"Who says anything about getting married?"
"So you're sticking to that bet of yours, huh? You don't think you'll get married before you're 30." The blonde asked, quirking an eyebrow.
"Well, Prop. 8 is yet to reach the US Supreme Court which I'm sure it will, and the Mormons have this unexplainable need to reduce people like me into some kind of second class citizen which means they are going to fight for their offending proposition until they are dead, so, I doubt that there's going to be any marriage in my future, 30 years old or not."
"Is Mischa Barton still your fantasy wife?" Brittany playfully narrowed her eyes at the brunette.
"Hey, it could happen, you know."
"You'll get married before you're 30." Brittany confidently countered as she lifted the glass of red wine to her lips, taking a sip.
"And you're sticking to that?"
There was a short pause.
"I don't want you to grow old alone." Blue eyes bravely looked up to meet a curious pair of browns.
"Can't we just grow old, together? You and me." Santana surprised herself with the sudden brazenness. She had always stayed clear of Brittany's radar, avoiding anything that would give Brittany an idea of how she really feels for her. Santana tried it as a joke, but it came out as sincere as she really was.
When Brittany did not reply, Santana felt the panic building inside. She was afraid that she just made Brittany uncomfortable. But the dancer didn't seem to be planning on walking out any moment now. On the contrary, Brittany looked like she had been pondering on something.
"Do you want to dance?"
That question definitely caught the lawyer off-guard.
"What?" A confused frown crossed Santana's face. Was that all Brittany had been thinking? She totally ignored the joke, which, of course, Santana was thankful for. Maybe Brittany did not hear her.
"I'm sure you can manage to sway back and forth to a slow song." The dancer continued with a smirk, looking smug.
"This isn't a date, right?" Santana almost slapped herself with her come back. She was acting so different that she hardly recognized her obvious attempts at flirting. This rare moment of courage to flirt with the person she had been avoiding and trying to get over from was really shocking.
Too late to take the jokes back.
She hoped Brittany would ignore it again this time.
"You ask too many questions."
"Well, I'm a prosecutor."
"I have the right to remain silent then." Brittany confidently replied. Santana looked amused.
"And you learned that from whom?"
"Just some brilliant person I know." Brittany smiled at the brunette.
For a few seconds they sat there, moment suspended, eyes locked on each other.
Santana, after realizing what she had been doing, cleared her throat and turned her eyes at everywhere but Brittany.
"We don't have-" Before Santana could finish her sentence about her iPod docking station being down and that they had nothing to use to play music with, Brittany managed to whip out her Blackberry from somewhere, and played the one song that Santana never gets tired of listening to.
The first notes to the instrumental version of Santana's favorite song, Songbird broke the room's silence.
"Will you dance with me?" She found Brittany already standing in front of her.
Brittany reached for Santana's hand without warning, the contact sending a jolt in the brunette's now fragile heart. The lawyer didn't have time to refuse, nor did she have the strength to. Both of them now stood beside the dining table, their surroundings only illuminated by candle light, and the silence suddenly filled with the music that never failed to touch Santana's heart.
How did Brittany even find out about that song?
Truth was, Santana had no idea why she loved that song so much. It could have been the lyrics. Maybe it was all about the music. There was just something about it that spoke directly to her. It was difficult to explain in words. Just the way it always made her feel described it. And just listening to it reminded her every damn time of one person only, and that person was standing dangerously close in front of her right now.
And their proximity was making Santana feel everything.
Every second was making her realize how short her time was to be able to look at Brittany. Quinn was right. It could be the last for a long time. Santana felt the need to memorize the details of Brittany's face, the feel of Brittany's arms around her waist, the comfort of being able to hold her close, like now, with her arms around the dancer's neck.
All those years she had been in love with Brittany, and yet she never found the courage to tell her, with the fear of being rejected and the fear of losing their friendship. But then again, she thought of what she had gained when she decided to avoid Brittany to get over her, to move on.
These realizations were starting to hit Santana all at once.
The lack of Brittany's physical presence in her life in the recent months that she avoided the dancer did not really help. You just forget how it feels until you see that person again. Trying to move on from Brittany was the hardest task she had ever done. And thinking about it now, her efforts actually cost her Brittany's friendship, one of her fears.
Santana scoffed at the irony of it.
Now, looking at Brittany, Santana was beginning to see how wrong she was. That she had already lost the blonde by pushing her way, and now she was going to lose her again. She knew she wasn't going to be able to stop her. But another thing she realized was that she had nothing more to lose now.
So screw her heart.
She might as well lay all her cards in the table. Maybe confessing would make her feel better, maybe that was what she needed to move on. Brittany would be a thousand miles away from her in a few hours anyway.
"You're important to me..." Santana's voiced cracked as she spoke.
"I know." Brittany said, the corner of her lips slightly quirking up to a small smile.
"No, you don't." Santana said, sounding frustrated. She could feel her heart constricting like her chest was about to explode.
Brittany waited for her to continue, expectant.
"I..." Santana trailed off, not knowing how to continue. Seriously, what were you supposed to say to the love of your life? Was there an 'Idiot's Guide' book for that? She made a mental note of hunting for that book as soon as possible.
Truth was Santana had dreamed of this moment a thousand times, when she'd have this time, this opportunity to spill all of feelings for the adorable blonde. She even made up a script in her mind. She had memorized what she was going to say to Brittany and recited it in her head a million times over before, just in case she could find that courage to tell the dancer in the future.
Who would have thought this time would actually come?
This was that future. And conveniently, she couldn't remember a thing. She had no idea how to start.
"I'm sorry if I haven't been there for you lately. It was intentional." Santana confessed.
There was a short silence as Brittany held her gaze. Santana could feel Brittany's warm breath in her face.
"I noticed. But I forgive you." Brittany smiled.
The two continued swaying in the tune of Santana's favorite song.
"I wish you wouldn't..." Santana whispered, her response eliciting a confused look from Brittany.
The brunette felt the pair of blue eyes willing her to look up. Unable to fight the urge, Santana did look up; her breath taken away by how gorgeous those pair of eyes was.
"I don't need another reason to... like you, even more."
Like is an understatement.
Brittany's expression was undecipherable. Whether she could see through Santana right now, it was hard to determine. But the dancer was listening intently.
"But that's the problem. If I could ignore it, I would. I was so afraid of losing you, our friendship. So I tried, but seeing you just makes it worse. That's why I tried to avoid you." Santana rambled..
"Is that supposed to enlighten me?" Brittany looked more confused than ever before.
"I'm a better writer than speaker." Santana could feel her heart pounding against her chest.
"Obviously." Brittany said jokingly to lighten up the situation, although she still looked utterly curious.
"I avoided you because I had to." Santana said in exasperation.
There was an apparent change in the blonde's facial expression. Seeing that, Santana's nerves doubled.
"No you didn't. And that was selfish." It was scary how Brittany's blue eyes could be all warm and shining one minute and then cold steel the next.
"I was trying to preserve our friendship." Santana turned into defensive mode.
"What friendship? You said it yourself, you haven't been there for me lately. Some friend you are." The hurt in Brittany's voice was clear.
"You don't really get it, do you?"
"Well, I don't really understand what you're trying to say. Friends are supposed to be there for each other. It would have been easy to hate you. But I don't hate you because you really are important to me."
"You're important to me too, that's why-"
"That's why you're hurting me by avoiding me?"
"I'm avoiding you because I'm trying NOT to hurt you or scare you because it's so damn easy to fall in love with you!"
Santana's jaw dropped at her sudden revelation. She took a step back but Brittany's arms around her waist and the hands on her back held her in place.
Brittany didn't look surprise. She just waited patiently for Santana to continue.
"You have a lovely smile. Every time I hear you laugh, it makes me want to laugh with you even there's no reason to. You listen to me, and no matter how boring I get talking about politics or the cases I'm handling, you try to understand me. You're carefree with this wonderful outlook about the world, and that's awesome. I think you're awesome..." Santana couldn't help it when her lips formed into a smile.
"Sometimes, although very rare, you have crazy mood swings and got one hell of a pride, but you're wonderful nonetheless. You're an amazing dancer who can express your feelings just by your movements and sometimes I can't help but watch you. You don't make promises that you can never keep. You appreciate the small things people do for you. You're hard-working, ambitious, and incredibly intelligent. You make it interesting to watch the ducks in the park even though on previous occasions I tried doing it without you I thought I was lame. You... You light everything up for me, Britt."
Santana improvised. Screw her prepared monologue, though she wished she could be a little less cheesy. It was like someone else was talking for her. But at least she got to say what she wanted to say, right?
"And avoiding you did not help at all. I tried not to because you're my friend, but..." Santana couldn't stop herself when she lifted her right hand to touch Brittany's face.
Brittany did not move. Her eyes remained fixed on the babbling lawyer.
"Brittany, I love you so much..." Finally being able to say what she had been hiding from Brittany all those time, Santana felt like a thorn had been pulled out from her chest. The rare moment of courage even lasted longer than she expected, prompting her to make an even bolder move.
Blame it on the surge of feeling; a mixture of love, adoration, excitement, longing and relief, Santana closed the gap between her and Brittany's face, claiming Brittany's lips for one searing kiss; a kiss that surprised her as it surpassed her expectations. She always imagined it, being able to kiss Brittany, how it would feel.
As amazing as it felt, Santana was more surprised by the fact that Brittany did not push her away, nor made any effort to. When Santana pulled back, her lips red and her face flustered by their very first kiss, she tried to read Brittany's face. She felt a mixed feeling of relief and dread; dread of hearing the expected rejection. Santana had prepared for that, but an express rejection did not come. Instead, she found the look of loneliness in Brittany's eyes, the pool of tears forming in her beautiful, sad eyes.
"Oh my God, I'm sorry, I-" Before Santana could finish stuttering her words of apology, assuming that she had offended Brittany, she was interrupted.
Interrupted by the pair of soft lips that kept her so busy just a while ago, now less tamed, demanding. Needless to say, it was a very welcome interruption.
The second kiss was unrestrained, frenzied, like wild fire. Santana felt deliriously happy and in disbelief that this was even happening, or that this time it wasn't her who initiated it. She didn't hold back, and she responded to Brittany's kiss like there was no tomorrow.
Well, for them, there wasn't. Brittany would be Paris-bound tomorrow.
Santana, as much as she didn't want to, pulled back, catching her breath.
"I have to stop now..." Santana whispered, staring at Brittany's lips. It was tempting her again, so Santana tried to focus on Brittany's eyes.
Brittany did not say anything. She caressed Santana's face, staring at her plump lips, but did not respond.
"If I don't, I might not be able to stop..." It was a warning. God knows what had been going through Santana's mind right now. It was taking all of her energy just restraining herself from ravishing Brittany's lips over and over again. But she was about to find out that although she could control herself, she couldn't control Brittany.
Brittany moved in for a third kiss.
It was gentle, slow. Santana let her right hand travel from Brittany's neck downwards, stopping at the top of Brittany's heart.
The beating was frantic.
"I don't want to leave you..." Brittany whispered in Santana's lips, in between kisses.
The kiss intensified again, from slow and gentle, to urgent and yearning. It didn't take long before Santana felt the need to feel something more than just the beating of Brittany's heart. As to how they reached Santana's bedroom, she couldn't remember. Santana was a little bit too busy to even try.
By morning, Brittany was gone, with no evidence of their previous rendezvous except the scent of her hair left on Santana's pillow.
Santana Lopez woke up with a start. Her heart was pounding against her chest at a scary pace. Feeling the sweat trickling her forehead, she hastily wiped a drop that ran down the right side of her face. Looking around her, she let out a deep sigh. It was all a dream. Rather a four-year old memory that she had been revisiting lately. It was still dark outside, and glancing at the digital clock resting on her nightstand showed the time as 3:30 a.m. She groaned and allowed herself to fall back to bed, intent on getting some well-deserved sleep that she had been deprived of in the recent weeks because of the important case that was about to be concluded that morning.
She had to sleep.
With her eyes closed, she tried her hardest to clear her head of the dream she just had. The task, however, seemed impossible as, despite her sleepiness, she just couldn't seem to contain the 'memories' being played over and over again, without intention, in her sleep state. It had been years. It hadn't been easy to get Brittany out of her system, out of her life. A period too depressing to look back to, and now, it haunted her in her dreams. Maybe it took sometime, but Santana eventually found a way to not think about her. So why did she have to come to her dreams? Why now?
Santana could only wonder. And while she was not about to admit it, every once in a while, she did wonder how Brittany was doing.
It was 9:30 in the morning; a normally busy hour at the Los Angeles district courthouse. Inside the courtroom of the well-reputed judge, William Hart, a particularly agitated assistant district attorney sat behind the prosecution table. She was young, beautiful, and sharply dressed for that particular occasion. Normally, she was dressed to impress; after all, one of her former professors in law school taught them that impressions mattered. It might even help you win a case. But this wasn't just an ordinary trial day. She made sure she wore her most expensive and most fine-looking suit, the one she rarely wore; a gray skirt reaching just above her knees, a white silk blouse and a gray coat, all Armani, an ensemble that fits her perfectly, which she matched with her gray pair of Jimmy Choo's. Her friend Kurt Hummel, a rising fashion designer gave it to her as a gift, as promised when she passed the bar. With mixed feeling of impatience and nervousness, the lady prosecutor drummed her fingers on top of the table; impatient because she had been there since 8:30 a.m., and nervous of the upcoming verdict.
Today was judgment day.
Conviction or acquittal.
She had been a prosecutor for four years. She prosecuted rape cases and murder. She won more times than she lost. Her boss, District Attorney Sebastian Stark, pegged her to be his possible successor. That was very flattering, of course, and a confidence-booster, but Santana's confidence decided to take a leave of absence at the moment.
Today, she was scared as hell. And unlike those other murder cases, this was the only one she worked with her heart out from the very beginning up to this end. All the others, she just inherited and continued prosecuting. She knew she shouldn't have been attached; it was a no-no for a lawyer to get so attached to a case. But she believed that she was prosecuting the right person, believed in his guilt. She got the case a few months ago, appalled by the gruesomeness of the crime, and silently promised the victims the justice that they deserve. The murder victim was a woman, and had she been alive, she would have been 28 years old like her, and the child in her womb would have born already. She was shot in the head in her bed while sleeping; it killed her on the spot. She was 'rescued' more than four hours later, too late to save the baby. And the man alleged to have killed her, was her supposed to be rescuer, her less than sympathetic husband.
There was never a moment that the assistant district attorney doubted her assessment of his guilt.
"All rise." The bailiff said as the door from the judge's chamber opened, and there entered Judge Hart. The lady prosecutor scrambled to her feet, and as she stood looking up at the judge, she heard a slight snickering behind her. She turned around to give a playful glare at her snickering friend sitting along with the spectators, who tried his best to contain his laughter.
It was rare to see Santana Lopez this nervous.
As Santana sat down again, the clerk called out other cases, mostly less serious, all of which were postponed due to the absence of witnesses, and finally, the lady prosecutor's case was called, and the judge turned to the foreman of the jury.
"Have you reached a verdict?" Judge Hart's gentle voice filled the surprisingly quiet courtroom. The foreman, a rather pudgy middle-aged man, stood up and handed a paper to the bailiff. The bailiff approached Judge Hart and handed the paper to the latter who in turn, read the contents briefly, before handing it back to the bailiff, and the bailiff, to the foreman.
"Mr. Stone, please stand up." Judge Hart ordered the accused husband, who stood up as ordered with his lawyer, some hot shot from a big law firm in LA.
Her hands were shaking as she listened and waited anxiously for the verdict.
"You wouldn't be the one going to jail if found guilty for Murder One, you know." An amused voice whispered not far away from behind her.
Santana threw a fleeting glance at the direction of one of her close friends, Mike Chang. They went to law school together and joined the same confraternity. He was in private practice and, just like Noah, was finding it very lucrative.
"I know." She whispered back.
"What?" She snapped.
"I am relaxed."
"Relaxed? You're about to have a seizure with the rate your hands are shaking and all we have here are liars and no doctors." He joked, making her smile. "You're Santana Lopez. You don't get scared. Get your game face on." Satisfied with the reaction from his confraternity sister, Mike turned his attention back to the foreman.
The lady prosecutor pulled her hand away from the table, but the feeling of nervousness was never diminished. In fact, Santana's heartbeat increased its pace even more.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, as to the charge of Murder One, how do you find the defendant?"
"We, the jury, find the defendant Emmett Stone, guilty." The foreman, his voice filled with conviction, finally declared.
For the first time since stepping into that courthouse that morning, ADA Santana Lopez was able to properly breathe.
She turned to the direction of the accused, now a convicted murderer. He had grown a beard and did not bother to shave for today. Regardless of the extra hair, and the less than humane conditions at the small cell he'd been locked in, one can still see that he was actually good-looking. He wasn't poor, but there wasn't much that his money can do for him now. There wasn't not much to discern from his facial expression. He remained looking without remorse, while Santana could hear the sobs of the murder victim's parents.
Her heart went out to them. It was a bittersweet victory. She smiled at them, and nodded her head when the victim's father mouthed a 'thank you'. How could someone do such a horrible thing to a person, more so to a pregnant woman bearing your child, a person that you love, or did love?
Santana's reverie was broken upon hearing the sound of the gavel, as if the judge just sealed the murderer's fate with finality. But of course, it wasn't final. He was probably going for an appeal. The judge stood up and headed to the door where he came out just a few minutes ago. People from the courtroom dispersed, and the prosecutor remained standing behind the prosecution table, watching as the convict was led by the jail guards, and they were passing by her direction.
For a moment, her eyes locked with the handcuffed convict's; cold, brown, calculating eyes. It sent shivers through her spine. And then he stopped beside her. The prosecutor was surprised, but she wasn't a bit intimidated despite the coldness of those eyes, so she looked back, glaring. Making sure that the murderer knew how repulsed she was by him.
"I didn't do anything wrong." The convict whispered. His voice sounded threatening rather than sincere.
"The jury says otherwise."
The convict looked up at her. She tried to hold his stare. Then the convict was finally led away by the two jail guards, to his jail cell far away from here. Hopefully, he'd be locked away for good.
"Santana Marie Lopez."
Santana smiled at the sound of the voice of another one of her friends. Another lawyer she went to school with, and like Mike, she shared a bond with; her confraternity brother Noah Puckerman. She turned to find him smiling at her, standing at the far end of the courtroom.
"Noah Puckerman." She called back. Then turned to Mike with a questioning look.
"I texted him, told him about your sweet victory. Isn't she an amazing prosecutor?" Mike grinned at Noah then turned back to her, with a mocking grin on his face.
"I just dropped by to say, congratulations Santana." Noah walked towards the two.
"How about tonight, you and me, dinner, and maybe some fun later? What do you say?" Noah wiggled his eyebrows playfully, trying so hard to pass his conduct as some smooth flirting. Santana's infectious laugh filled the now empty courtroom.
"Oh please, Puck. A. Kill yourself and B. As if."
The three friends laughed at the inside joke.
"Hey, I thought we agreed not to call me 'Puck'. Your cousins thought I was a junkie when you called me 'Puck'. No one who knew me as 'Puck' would even believe that I'm a badass corporate lawyer now. I saw Artie once in Vegas and he asked me how I managed to steal a Ferrari." Noah whined as he recalled that time he ran into one of their former classmates. Artie found it hard to believe that Noah actually bought the Ferrari he was then driving.
"You know, you used to be so cool. And who said you're badass? Personally, I think you're just an 'ass'." Santana raised her left hand for a high five with Mike.
"I'm still cool, minus the mohawk."
"I'd say this calls for a celebration." Mike suggested.
"Oh, no, I-" Santana protested, but was interrupted by Noah.
"We're throwing an overnight party for you at the beach house. We've already invited our confraternity friends and some former classmates, but it's not an exclusive party, so you could invite your other hot friends over." Noah's grin grew wider.
"You SHOULD." Mike emphasized, a wide smile forming on his face.
Santana rolled her eyes.
"Did any one of you even think of asking me first if I want to have a party or not?" Santana picked up her things and started walking out of the courtroom, with her two friends behind her.
"Neither one of us are dumb enough to give you an opportunity to say no." Noah answered.
"Santana, we know how important winning this case is for you." Mike added.
"I did win. But you know, winning is sort of an everyday thing for me, so this is just one of those ordinary days." Santana said smugly.
"Your girlfriend got you on a leash?" Noah joked. Santana mockingly glared at him.
"My girlfriend is out of the country, and excuse me, no one is on a leash." Yup, Santana's sexuality was an open book. It hadn't been easy, but when she was still in law school, she found the courage to let everyone see who she really was. There was that point in her life that she just couldn't pretend or hide anymore. She was thankful that everyone she knew understood and accepted her. They were surprised, no one could really guess. Her coming out didn't really change the way they treat her, but now she was more comfortable, happier. And now she had someone who loves her.
Her awesome girlfriend who flies airplanes.
How cool was that?
"Come on, what happened to that fun girl we once knew?" Noah called after Santana when she increased her pace walking away from them.
"She grew up." Santana smiled.
"See you at 8:00?" Mike asked hopefully.
"Yup." Santana grinned. Mike and Noah raised their right hands for a high five.
It was late when Santana arrived at Noah's house in Laguna Beach with her other friends.
"I worry for your friends' livers." Quinn Fabray, Santana's photographer friend, remarked.
The prosecutor turned to Quinn who was at her right side, then followed her gaze.
They were waiting to be served dinner at the restaurant near Puck's beach house. Most of the others were celebrating with drinks by the shore, with a few bonfires, and music. Santana was actually surprised at the turn-out. Mike and Noah surely knew how to throw a party. They had invited so many people that she wasn't even sure if she knew all of them.
"Me too." Santana laughed. Drinking had been a normal past time since law school, and she had no idea how it became a sort of thing for lawyers. It was a curse.
"So, where's Kurt again?" Mercedes Jones, another one of Santana's favorite friends, inquired. The New York-based pediatrician came to LA about a month ago for an indefinite vacation. She was considering other options.
"Actually, I have no idea. He just said he'd be here before ten, and that he has a surprise for me." Santana looked amused. Kurt really didn't have to get her anything.
"Crap. We didn't get you anything." Quinn looked apologetically at Santana, then turned to Mercedes. "Why didn't we get her anything?"
"Forget it. I don't think I deserve any gift for doing what is supposed to be my job. Though, you can get me a new iPhone for my birthday." Santana wiggled an eyebrow at Quinn.
"Or you could get your goddaughter that x-box she's been begging for." Quinn was a single mother, and made all Santana, Mercedes and Kurt her daughter's godparents.
"Hey, she's only four, and I'm a public servant. I couldn't even buy my dream car."
"Well, an x-box definitely costs cheaper than a Porsche Carrera." Quinn pointed out.
"Good point." Santana smiled. It didn't take long when the waiter finally brought their order. All of them were really hungry.
"And shouldn't Beth be playing with barbies and stuff?" Santana turned curiously at Quinn.
"You and Kurt are her godparents, are you still really surprised?" Quinn replied incredulously.
"Why did you make me a godparent along with these clowns?" Mercedes joked.
"I was hoping she'd get your brain power." Quinn replied, which earned her a playful push from Santana.
A few minutes later, the three of them were walking back to the shore where most people were gathered around the bonfires. Music was booming from big speakers not so far away from them, and it was only now that Santana realized that Noah and Mike hired a DJ.
Nice touch. Santana grinned.
Mercedes had found some old acquaintances and chatted with them. Quinn, on the other hand, received a call and was now busy talking over her phone, probably with her almost four year-old daughter. A few people walked up to Santana to greet her.
It was turning out to be a great night. Everybody was enjoying the music, the booze at the improvised bar set up in front of the beach house, and yes, she realized Mike and Noah did not forget dinner. It just arrived late.
So, trying to get away from what seemed to be unending congratulatory greetings, Santana finally found space, and was now sitting in front of one of the bonfires. There were less people at this part of the beach. She sat staring at the fire, thinking of what transpired early that morning in that courthouse. She was happy that she won. She felt so right about the conviction. What she couldn't forget was that cold stare from that convicted felon. And that of all the things that he could say, instead of saying that 'I didn't kill my wife', or 'I'm not guilty', he just said 'I didn't do anything wrong'. Santana found it odd.
"There's our favorite prosecutor!"
The familiar voice made her close her eyes. Santana was hoping to be alone for a while. Despite the beautiful beach and the nice party her friends organized for her, she was kind of craving for some peace. She loved being in the company of her peers, it was just that this had been a very long day.
"Santana!" It was Mike.
"Can I join you guys later? I just need some time-"
"Sorry we're late." The smile was obvious in the familiar voice.
It was Kurt, and his arrival made Santana smile.
But then she realized Kurt had said 'we'.
She was only expecting Kurt. And the only way to find out who 'we' were was to turn around and see. She had expected some of their long-lost friends, like Rachel Berry who had been busy working as a Broadway actress in New York, or Tina Cohen-Chang, an artist now touring the world with her artwork.
Well, there was Rachel Berry alright, with her annoying smile and weird fashion sense, but her eyes fell on the blonde-haired woman standing between her and Kurt Hummel.
It definitely wasn't Tina.
Those piercing blue eyes brought Santana's thoughts back to four years ago.
"Brittany Pierce." Santana, for the first time in a long time, called out that name without any trace of emotion at all.