Girl's Got a Hold On Me

Author's Notes: So this is an AU, set during early season 3, I pretty much decided to ignore Quinn's dumb baby-stealing storyline, because if Santana Lopez was her best friend, she would not let Quinn pull that shit. Right? Yes. Shhh, just go with it. Title is from Howlin' for You by The Black Keys.

In her senior year of high school, Santana Lopez has pretty much got her shit figured out. She's one of the top Cheerios, the hottest bitch at McKinley High, and, if she says so herself, a pretty big star of New Directions glee club. Sure, she's not getting quite as many solos as she'd like, but she still gets more than some of the kids, including Quinn, her best friend. Her junior year was pretty rough; she had had a lot of rage right up until a really helpful talk with Ms. Holliday, the world's coolest substitute teacher. Ms. Holliday had helped her figure out her sexuality, but like, not in an after-school special kind of way. Once Santana admitted those feelings to herself, a lot of things made more sense. Like her hostility towards guys and sex with guys, and also, you know, how much she enjoyed the Cheerios changing room after practice.

So starting her senior year, Santana felt like...well, like more herself. She was confident in who she was, even if she wasn't ready to tell the whole world about it yet. Quinn knew, of course, and was totally cool with it once Santana assured her that she wasn't going to jump her when they had sleepovers or anything. (Like, please, she loved Quinn, but that girl had so many issues, and there was no way Santana was stopping for a prayer session every time she got to second base.)

Telling her parents would be the next step, but that was one thing that Santana was willing to put off. Maybe until she was safely away at college.

Thursday night, after half-assedly finishing her homework (she can copy the rest off Quinn during homeroom), Santana heads over to Breadstix to grab some food. This is more proof that she really has changed; the Santana Lopez of a couple of years ago would never be caught dead eating alone. Or going to the movies alone, which she does sometimes when she's bored and Quinn is busy. Past Santana would've said that only total losers go out alone, but now she kind of likes it. It's sort of nice, actually, not to have to make conversation with anybody, and Santana's discovering that she likes people-watching. Even at Breadstix, where the only thing she can really do is judge other people on their food choices while she inhales half a ton of fresh baked bread sticks. It's actually pretty awesome.

And sure, sometimes she wishes she had someone – not Quinn, who's not really that good at making fun of people unless they can hear her – but like, a girlfriend. Someone who gets her, and gets that she's not being mean, she's being hilarious and keeping it real. Someone who knows what's she's thinking through just a shared look. Definitely someone who understands her love of Breadstix, because Quinn keeps telling her that bread will make her fat, which is just plain lies. Santana's beginning to think that she won't meet anyone like that until she gets of of Lima and goes to college, somewhere totally fabulous like LA or New York, and that's okay. She can wait, it's only one more year. In the meantime, she can get more comfortable being by herself, because she's betting big city chicks will dig her hot independence. Santana always has a plan.

She snags her usual booth at Breadstix – it's always empty, because the staff knows that's it's pretty much permanently reserved for her, and that she will get them fired if they forget it.

She's a little bit miffed that she sits down and doesn't receive her standard diet coke immediately, but that old lady waitress isgetting pretty slow. Santana's looking around, about to start waving her arms and making a fuss, when a waitress skips up to her table.

"Hey, sorry about the wait. What can I get you?"

Santana looks up, and then promptly forgets how to speak. Her waitress is new – a pretty young blond girl. No, scratch that, Quinn is a pretty blond. This girl is gorgeous, with her hair pulled back into a messy high ponytail and a smile that makes Santana melt. Her body is totally banging too, even though the polyester Breadstix uniform isn't really doing her any favors. Santana realizes she's staring, and quickly looks away. The blond doesn't seem phased at all, grinning brightly, waiting with her pad of paper and pencil poised to take Santana's order.

Her order, right. "Diet coke and a burger, please," Santana mutters, sliding the menu across the table for the waitress to take.

The blond nods, and then bites her lip as she carefully writes Santana's order down. Then she shoots Santana another smile and rushes off, and Santana's pretty sure she can smell cherries. Or maybe she's having a stroke.

In the five minutes before she comes back with Santana's drink and basket of bread sticks, Santana tries her hardest to come up with something not completely lame to say. "You're the most beautiful girl I've ever seen" doesn't really seem like a good opening line. "I'd like to get an order of you, to go" is way too cheesy, and also something Puck would say. "Hi, I'm Santana" seems almost too simple, right? Santana frowns, and quickly sends a text to Quinn saying I have no game. Why didn't you tell me I have NO GAME? I hate my life. And then the waitress is back, sliding her drink across the table.

"Oh, hi," Santana says, caught off guard. "I-" The blond had been starting to walk off, but she turns back expectantly, and Santana has nothing to say.

Quickly, she babbles the first thing that comes to mind. "You're new here, right? I've never seen you before, and I'm here all the time." Wait, that sounded lame. "I mean, not like all the time, I have a life. And stuff. But I have to eat, you know? And then I come here." That was the stupidest thing anybody has ever said to a pretty girl, Santana's positive. Even worse, she finishes it off by laughing way too hard. Oh god, she wants to crawl under the table and cry.

But the waitress just nods at her, like nothing horribly embarrassing is happening. "Yeah, my family just moved to town. It's pretty cool so far, I guess." She looks like she's about to say something else, but then a lady a couple of tables down looks over and calls "Miss?" and she gives Santana a little wave and heads off.

Santana takes a long sip of her drink, and her phone bleeps. It's Quinn, texting her back with just a LOL and a little smiley face. That bitch. Santana stays at Breadstix longer than she intended to, drinking way too many free refills and even ordering dessert.

At school the next day, she meets up with Quinn at Cheerios practice first thing and they go over every embarrassing detail of Santana's dinner. Well, not that there are very many details.

"Was she flirting with you?" Quinn asks.

"I don't know," Santana sighs.

"Well...did you get her name? Or introduce yourself? Exchange phone numbers?"

"Noooo!" Santana wails.

"So basically nothing happened," Quinn scoffs.

"OH SHUT IT, Q," Santana snaps, and then Coach Sylvester looks over to where the girls are supposed to be stretching on the field.

"Less talking, more groaning, ladies!" Sue yells. "If you can still breathe enough to get words out, you're doing it wrong!"

Santana bends forwards and grips her ankle, feeling the stretch along her thigh. She turns her head and hisses at Quinn, "So now what do I do?"

Quinn rolls her eyes at her. "You go back there and try again, duh."

Sometimes Santana really hates her supportive best friend.

At Quinn's insistence, Santana ends up back at Breadstix that night. She has "Hi, I'm Santana Lopez!" scrawled on her hand in Quinn's girly writing so that, as Quinn so delightfully put it, she wouldn't get so turned on that she forgot her own name.

The restaurant is pretty crowded, but of course her table is still open, so Santana doesn't have to wait. She slides into the booth and tries to look around nonchalantly, but there's no sign of the blond new girl. A different, totally not hot waitress comes to take her order, and Santana wants to punch her for ruining her life.

Santana picks at her meal, barely eating anything (well, a whole basket of bread sticks, but that's her showing restraint, jeez) and then gets ready to pay and take off. She doesn't tip the not-hot waitress purely out of spite, because life ruining bitches don't get tips from Santana Lopez.

She's pushing her way out the front door when someone runs full tilt right into her, sending them both off balance. Santana grabs out, manages to keep them from toppling over; then when they right themselves, Santana sees that it's the blond. Her heartbeat doubles in time immediately.

"Oh, hi!" The girl says brightly, scooping her purse up from the ground. "I'm so sorry, I'm running late for my shift and I wasn't looking where I was going."

"That's totally okay," Santana says. Her voice sounds strangely high pitched and weird, so she clears her throat and tries again.

"It was my fault too, I wasn't paying attention either." That sounded a little better.

The blond gestures towards the door. "I have to get in there, but it was nice running into you again. I'm Brittany, by the way."

Score, the hot blond has a name. "I'm Santana," Santana says, and absurdly, she sticks her hand out for the blond to shake. What is this, a job interview? But Brittany shakes her hand and then too late, Santana realizes that that's the hand Quinn wrote her name on. She quickly tries to take it back, but Brittany hangs on, and turns it over to read her palm. There's really nothing Santana can think to say to make this less awkward, but Brittany just smiles. "Oh," she says, "do you forget your name sometimes too?"

Only around gorgeous girls, Santana wants to say, but once again words are failing her, so she just slides her hand out of Brittany's and says, "Well. Okay. Bye." and hurries off into the parking lot.

Unlocking her car, she collapses into the seat and covers her face in shame. That could not have gone any worse. But then she remembers – Brittany. The blond's name is Brittany, and she knows Santana's name, so maybe the evening wasn't a total waste.

She texts Quinn the next morning, inviting her to go to breakfast at Breadstix. Never mind the fact that Breadstix opens at 9 in the morning and doesn't even have a breakfast menu, and also the fact that if Brittany was working the later shift last night, she probably wouldn't be working again first thing in the morning, Santana doesn't even care. She had spent the night tossing and turning and also having a really intense dream about pushing Brittany down on the front counter of Breadstix and doing some completely dirty things to her, right there next to the cash register. Actually, it was the jangle of the cash register that had woken her up abruptly, right as Brittany was starting to come and moaning her name, and Santana's sure that probably says something about her subconscious. Maybe she should ask Quinn? No, that was probably something she should keep between herself and her Google search history.

Quinn texts her back with a maddening Feeling desperate? :) Play it cool, at least wait until dinner.

Ugh, fine!, Santana sends back, and then crawls back under the covers, hoping to at least be able return to her dream.

Santana picks Quinn up that evening, and then they spend 15 minutes sitting in Santana's car in the Breadstix parking lot, while Santana lectures Quinn on not staring, and not being embarrassing, and actually, not saying anything, unless maybe if she wants to mention how awesome Santana is, but only if it's in like, a cool way.

Finally, Santana trails off and takes a deep breath, and Quinn looks over at her appraisingly. "You're really into this girl, aren't you?"

Santana shrugs helplessly. "It's so stupid, I know. I don't even know anything about her, and we've talked for like, three seconds, but I can't help it. I feel like I'm high, Quinn, I don't know what's wrong with me."

"Oh, Santana," Quinn smiles at her fondly. "You're having feelings, I'm so proud of you."

"Shut up," Santana laughs, and then reaches over to pull Quinn into a hug. "Thanks," she whispers.

"So let's go, then?" Quinn asks. "I'm starving, and I didn't come out to sit in your car all night."

Luck is with Santana tonight, because Brittany shows up the second they get themselves situated in their booth.

"Hey guys, what can I get you to drink?" and then she glances over at Santana and smiles. "Diet coke, right?"

Holy hell, she remembered her drink order, Santana feels like she might pass out or something. She stutters out a "yeah," and Quinn kicks her under the table. "I mean yes thank you!" she chirps, her voice going all squeaky once again, oh god what is her problem? She pastes her Cheerios competition smile on her face as Quinn orders a diet coke as well and Brittany nods and walks off.

As soon as Brittany's out of ear shot, Quinn shoots a sharp look at Santana. "Okay, that was toomuch, and why are you smiling like that, you freak?"

"I. Don't. Know." Santana hisses sharply. She looks around Breadstix, suddenly feeling like it's way too crowded and everyone can probably hear her being a spaz. A totally gay spaz. "There are too many people here," she whispers frantically at Quinn, "and I don't think I even like girls anymore. Totally straight, let's go home!"

Quinn fixes her with a her patented Cheerios bitch face. (No, really, Sue got it patented and makes them all practice it. Sue would probably get Quinn's face insured if the school would pay for it.) "Lopez, don't pull that with me." She says. "I've been your best friend since elementary school, and I know what's best for you, and we are not moving from this booth so you need to figure your shit out."

Damn, Quinn can be scary. They glare at each other for a couple of minutes, dueling bitchy stares, but Quinn wins and Santana rolls her eyes. "I hate you," she says.

"Yeah, I know, that's why we've been friends for nine years," Quinn retorts, grinning.

Brittany comes back with their drinks and Santana clutches at hers like it might save her life.

Quinn says, "Thanks! So you're Brittany, right? I'm Quinn." She looks Brittany over appraisingly, and Santana feels anxious for a second, which is stupid. She never cared whether or not Quinn approved of her taste in guys, so girls shouldn't be any different.

Brittany nods. "Hi Quinn, nice to meet you. I'm new here, I don't really know anyone yet. Well, except for Santana."

Brittany saying her name is the best thing Santana's ever heard. She feels flushed, why is it so hot in here? She takes a long sip of her drink.

"So, are you in school? Where are you going?" Quinn asks, like a stupid show off who has no problem forming sentences in front of hot girls. Also, that is a great question, Santana can't believe that she didn't even think to ask that.

"Oh, um, I'm starting at William McKinley on Monday," Brittany says. "I'm a senior, is that where you guys go?"

"Yeah!" Quinn says. "We're both seniors too, so we'll probably see you around. We can introduce you to some people, too."

"That's so awesome," Brittany beams. She takes their order, and Santana totally manages to speak without sounding like she has mental problems, so that's something.

Once she leaves again, Santana reaches across the table to grab Quinn's hand. "She's going to our school! I might die, Quinn. Oh my god, what am I going to wear?"

"Um, your Cheerios uniform," Quinn suggests dryly, prying Santana's fingers off her hand. "You're squeezing too hard, stop it."

"Okay," Santana releases Quinn and takes a deep breath. "Okay."

Quinn eyes her. "You were never this nervous when you were dating guys," she points out.

Santana shakes her head. "That was different. I didn't really care about them – I mean, I thought I did, I guess, but this is not the same thing."

"Clearly," says Quinn, smirking. "I mean, I never knew you could be this pathetic. I wasn't even this emotional when I was pregnant and dealing with all those extra hormones."

"That's total bullshit," Santana shoots back quickly, "because I seem to remember you calling me in tears at 4 am one time when 7-11 was out of your favorite ice cream." That had happened more than once, actually, which is why Santana had made sure to keep her freezer stocked with Cherry Garcia for the last half of Quinn's pregnancy.

Quinn just grins at her. "Well, if we got through those horrible emotional times, I'm sure we can get you through this."

"You're going to be my Cherry Garcia?" Santana asks, and that sounds so ridiculous that her and Quinn burst into giggles and laugh until Santana's eyes are watering and she has to go to the washroom to fix up her makeup.

When she gets back to the table, Brittany's there chatting with Quinn, having already set their food down. She grins brightly at Santana as sits back down.

"I thought you looked familiar," she says.

"I – what?" Santana asks, worriedly meeting Quinn's eyes. Quinn gives her head a little shake indicating that no, there's nothing to panic about. Santana feels panicked anyway.

"Your picture is up in the back, and I think I was warned about you on my first day. Quinn was just telling me the story; something about a wheelbarrow?"

Santana blushes. "Well, if it says unlimited bread sticks, you best be prepared to deliver," she says lamely. Brittany laughs, it's a great sound.

Quinn jumps in. "Nobody messes with Santana," she says. "People are totally afraid of her at school."

"Then I'm glad I got on your good side right away," Brittany says, smiling sincerely at Santana, who blushes harder, and then she says, "Oh, oops, I have other tables. Gotta go," and then she rushes away.

"She was totally flirting," Quinn says.

"No, no she wasn't," Santana says, but she can't stop herself from smiling stupidly anyway.

Sunday afternoon Santana tosses the contents of her closet on her bed and sorts through all her clothes, trying to pick the perfect outfit to wear to Breadstix that night. Quinn had been right, she'd have to wear her Cheerios uniform at school or else Sue would probably suspend her or get her arrested or something, so that meant she really had to impress Brittany with her fashion sense tonight. Because yes, she was planning of going back to Breadstix that evening, and she was determined to have an actual conversation with Brittany even if it killed her. Which it very well might, she thinks.

The problem is – she doesn't really have any idea how to flirt with girls. Guys are no problem, just flash some cleavage or talk about sex and they're practically drooling and doing whatever you demand. She's dated guys, tons of them, and while they're frustrating and not very good in bed, they are easy to understand. Girls though, she just doesn't have the practice. There aren't really any girls in Lima that Santana wants to flirt with or date, and also, she's pretty sure she's the only lesbian in town. So it's kind of like she's going into this with no experience, and she doesn't even know if Brittany's into girls. Maybe she's just really friendly.

Santana tries on outfit after outfit, growing frustrated. I mean, sure, she looks hot in all of them, she totally knows that, but she wants to look , she decides on an outfit that she hopes says 'hey, I'm a lesbian' but like, in a really subtle way so that only other lesbians would be able to tell and not the entire town of Lima. She wants to impress a pretty girl, not out herself completely.

She ends up being ready by 4:30, which is way too early to go have supper, but she has all this nervous energy so she gets in her car and drives around Lima for a while, blasting some Lady Gaga and singing along until she feels better. It's totally cheesy and she'd rather die than admit it to anyone, but Born This Way is totally her personal gay anthem. And really, if Lady Gaga can go out in public wearing a meat dress, or hatch herself out of a weird egg, then Santana Lopez can totally have a simple conversation with a girl.

When she finally gets to Breadstix and slides into her booth, Santana doesn't have to wait long before Brittany whisks by to drop off her drink. "I'll be right back to take your order," she says, and disappears, and that wasn't a conversation but Santana managed to make eye contact and smile (normally, even) without blushing like a fool, so she's pretty proud about that.

Breadstix is unusually packed tonight, even for the supper rush, so when Brittany takes her order, they only exchange a few words about Brittany starting school the next day, and Santana mentions that she's on the cheerleading squad, which Brittany seems totally interested in.

"I'm kind of a dancer," the blond says, tilting her head down bashfully. "I'm not too bad at it."

Santana's pretty sure she could convince Sue to let her try out, even though tryouts were over the first week of school. That would be awesome, if she had another excuse to spend time with Brittany. Brittany vanishes to check on other tables, and Santana gets lost in thoughts of Brittany in that little Cheerios uniform, and her and Brittany helping each other stretch.

Santana eats slowly, mostly watching Brittany work. She's really graceful, the way she steps around tables and other waitresses, balancing trays of food, and Santana's content to just sit and observe the way her eyes sparkle when she laughs, and how she smiles and jokes with the other customers.

In what feels like no time at all, Santana notices that the restaurant is clearing out and it's grown dark outside. Brittany comes by and slides another drink across the table top to Santana, and then surprises her completely by sitting down across the from her in the booth.

"I'm taking a break," Brittany shrugs. "The supper rush is over so it'll be pretty dead in here until all the late-night freaks come in."

"Cool," Santana says. She fiddles with her napkin, trying to come up with something to say but all she can think of is, "so, do you like working here?"

"It's okay, I guess," Brittany shrugs again. "I messed up a couple of orders tonight. Sometimes it's really hard for me to read my handwriting."

"Well, you always get mine right, so...yay!" Santana says, and then instantly wishes she hadn't. She hasn't been sitting here for four and a half hours just to talk to Brittany about the joys of waitressing. Santana glances up quickly to make sure Brittany's not rolling her eyes at her lameness or anything, but the blond is looking away, scanning the restaurant. Then she stands up.

"Come on, come with me," she says, and Santana's not sure what's happening but she gets up and follows Brittany to the back of the restaurant, through the swinging doors to the kitchen.

The stand under the bright fluorescent lights and Santana looks around expectantly. Finally Brittany says, "so...ta-dah!" and Santana can only look at her blankly. She's really not sure what her response should be to...a kitchen.

"This," Brittany says, gesturing about, "is where we make the bread sticks! And, well, the rest of the food, but I know you really love the bread sticks. So I thought you'd wanna see," Brittany trails off, her smile fading. "I thought you'd like it. Is this, like, not cool?"

"Oh, no, it's totally cool!" Santana says quickly. And,'s really not, but the way Brittany's face instantly lights up in a bright smile is.

"Good, I'm glad," Brittany says, jumps up to sit on top of one of the counters, swinging her feet idly. Santana's not sure if they're allowed to be back here, but Brittany seems pretty content so Santana wanders closer, leaning against the counter Brittany is sitting on.

"So what else do you like?" Brittany asks. "I know you like cheerleading, and bread sticks, but what else?" She's looking at Santana like this is the most fascinating information ever, and while normally Santana doesn't have any problem talking about herself, she's at a loss for words.

"Uh, well. I'm in the glee club, I sing. And I'm in the school musical this year," Santana says, wishing again that girls were as easy to read as guys were. Like, is Brittany fishing for something right now? Maybe she should say Girls. I really like girls. Just throw that out there and see what happens.

"Oh, that's so cool, I love singing. I'm not very good but I sing all the time, in the shower and stuff. I bet you sound way better than me."

"Oh, well, if you wanted," Santana suggests, thinking of spending time alone with Brittany in the choir room, "I could give you some tips some time." Vocal exercises aren't very sexy, except maybe to Rachel Berry, but Santana could probably work some flirting in there.

Brittany's blue eyes go wide. "In the shower?"

Santana feels like she might pass out. "What? No, like at school, I didn't mean-" but Brittany starts laughing before she can finish. She's not laughing in a mean way, but Santana still feels like it's possible she's being set up; is this just a trick so Brittany can laugh at her about how gay she is? But Brittany's smiling at her, blue eyes sparkling with delight and she's just so genuine that Santana can't help but relax. She feels pretty sure that if she opens her mouth to speak, she's going to end up telling Brittany everything, all her feelings, it's all going to come tumbling out in a big gay rush. And then, depending on the outcome, she may have to move to a new state.

Brittany saves her by speaking before she reveals all her secrets, saying, "So, okay. Sing something for me."

"What? Right now?"

"Yeah, why not. The acoustics are great in here." She's still smiling over at Santana, and there's no way Santana can say no. She opens her mouth and sings a few lines of the first song that comes to her mind - "Born This Way" by Lady Gaga, the song she was singing in the car earlier.

She sings the part from the chorus, "I'm beautiful in my way, 'cause God makes no mistakes, I'm on the right track baby, I was born this way," her voice echoing around the empty kitchen. Brittany was right, it sounds pretty great. She looks down at her hands as she sings, afraid that if she meets Brittany's eyes her voice will do that weird thing again, and when she looks up as her the last note trails off, Brittany is staring at her in shock.

Santana doesn't even have time to react before the blond launches herself at her, wrapping her arms around her in a tight hug. "That was so good!" Brittany whispers happily, her voice right next to Santana's ear and the end of her ponytail brushing against Santana's cheek. She smells so good, and she's so close; it's all Santana can think of.

Then, suddenly, a door bangs and a guy comes in. He's clearly the cook, and looks confused at the teen girls hugging in his kitchen. Santana breaks away from Brittany abruptly.

"Oh, hi, George!" Brittany says brightly, not seeming to notice Santana's discomfort. "I was just showing Santana the kitchen, she really likes the food here."

"YES, THE FOOD," Santana says, too loudly. "I love your food, that's all!"

George half-smiles and nods, still looking at them strangely, and Brittany says she guesses she should go back to work.

Leaving the restaurant, Santana takes a moment to stand in the parking lot, breathing in the cool night air, thinking about what just happened. That was really weird, right? With the singing and the hugging and all. Weird but awesome, even though she's still not sure if Brittany's into her or is just looking to make some new friends. She forgot to tell Brittany that she'd meet up with her in school tomorrow, but there's no way she's going back into the restaurant just for that.

At school the next day, Santana keeps scanning the crowds in the hallways for Brittany, but doesn't see her all morning. Brittany's not in any of her morning classes, either, much to her disappointment.

She meets up with Quinn in the cafeteria during lunch, and Quinn, that lucky bitch, tells her that Brittany was in two of her classes that morning.

"I'll have to transfer," Santana says immediately. "Quick, let's go see Ms. Pillsbury right now and I'll say I'm suicidal and I need to be in all your classes or else I'll get too sad and end myself."

"That's stupid," Quinn says dismissively, and Santana frowns. "Plus," Quinn continues, "having classes with her might kill your crush. I hate to break it to you, but your pretend girlfriend is kind of dumb. She asked me how to spell 'orange' today."

"So?" Santana snaps quickly. "Spelling is hard for some people."

"It was math class," Quinn rolls her eyes.

Santana feels rage bubble up inside of her. "You have to be nice to her," she hisses at Quinn. "She's the best person I've ever met, and if you're mean to her I will destroy you!" She yelling now, and she doesn't even care, she's going all Lima Heights and people best recognize. "I will end everyone right now!" People are staring.

"Oh my god, calm yourself." Quinn says huffily, knowing better than to argue with Santana when she's in Lima Heights mode after years of friendship and many, many fights. "I was just saying."

"Well, stop it."

Quinn just shakes her head at her. They sit in silence for a second, Santana glaring. Finally, Quinn says, "Well, she has really nice hair?" in a placating tone.

"Damn right she does," Santana says icily, but she's starting to calm down. She slides her brownie across the table to Quinn to let her know she's not really mad.

After lunch, Santana has a free period, so she wanders through the empty hallways, thinking she'll go outside and run around the track, or maybe practice her Cheerio routines for a bit. She rounds a corner and there's Brittany, looking lost.

"Oh, hey!" Santana says happily, and then tries to play it cool. "I mean...hey. Do you have a spare right now too?"

"No," Brittany says. "I was supposed to be in history, and I thought I was in the right room, but it turned out to be the janitor's closet. I met Mr. Kidney, though, he seems pretty cool."

Their janitor isn't really cool at all, but Santana shrugs that off. "Well, class is like half over anyway," she says, "so why don't you come hang out with me for now? And then I can help you find your next class."

Brittany agrees, and they wander outside and take a seat on the bleachers, looking out on the empty field. Santana is trying to not be obvious about checking Brittany out, but as Brittany arranges herself on the bleachers, it's hard not to stare. Out of her Breadstix uniform, Brittany looks even more amazing. She's wearing a long top and leggings, showing off her long athletic legs. She's also wearing a furry winter hat, despite the fact that's it's still pretty warm out.

"So how do you like McKinley so far?" Santana asks.

Brittany shrugs. "It's okay, I guess. It's about the same as my old school."

They sit in silence for a little bit, and then Santana glances over. Brittany looks a little worried or something, not like the bright-eyed girl who was hugging Santana tightly yesterday.

"What's up, Britt?" Santana says, concerned. "Was somebody mean to you or something?" She's ready to take down names, kick some ass if it's needed.

"No, nothing like that," Brittany says slowly. "It's just, I've heard some things. Things"

Santana's mind goes instantly to the biggest secret she has, but there's no way Brittany's heard about that, right? Because nobody knows, except for Quinn. "What did you hear?" she asks quietly.

"Nothing, just. A lot of people, like most of the people I've talked to, they say you're a bitch. Like, really mean."

Oh. Well, shit, that's nothing new, Santana thinks. Brittany looks thoughtful.

"There was this one girl, in my geography class. Or my geology class, maybe, I don't know. But she said that I should stay away from you because she could tell that I had an "innocent soul" or something and that you would corrupt me with your poison words." Santana's rolling her eyes by the time Brittany's done this explanation because she knows that could only be one person, stupid Rachel Berry with her big mouth. But what if Brittany believes her, though?

"I'm not that mean," Santana says quickly. "Not like, not all the time, anyway."

Brittany shrugs, tugging on her hat. "I didn't think you were," she says. "And the girl who said that, she was wearing, like, a furry puppy sweater, so. I think she might have had some problems of her own."

That makes Santana laugh. "I know right, she dresses like a five year old. Well, a five year old in really short skirts."

Brittany nods. "I liked the skirt," she says, "just not the sweater."

Suddenly Santana really wants to explain herself to Brittany. She doesn't want to take any chances, have Brittany thinking she's an awful person before they really get to know each other. She takes a deep breath and says, "I am mean, I guess that's true. But it's just because...I have a secret."

Brittany just looks at her, eyebrows raised, so Santana continues, her voice dropping to a whisper even though there's nobody else around. "I'm... gay." Santana says quietly, and then redundantly adds, "I like girls." She wishes her voice didn't sound so shaky, but maybe it'll get easier the more she says it.

She steels herself, waiting for Brittany to freak out or run away or something, but Brittany just smiles at her. "That's totally cool," she says simply.

Santana's heart is racing, her palms feel sweaty. "I've never told anyone that before," she says, "except for Quinn, but she sort of knew anyway." She's not sure how to tell Brittany that her not freaking out means so much to Santana.

Brittany sort of seems like she gets it, though, and she scoots closer to Santana on the bleachers so their shoulders bump together. "I won't tell anyone," the blond promises. "Your secret is safe with me."

Santana goes to Breadstix for dinner that night, because it's habit by now, and her talk with Brittany that afternoon had gone really well and Santana couldn't wait until the next day at school to see her again. Unfortunately, to her disappointment, Brittany doesn't seem to be working. The old lady waitress drops off her drink and takes her order, and Santana keeps looking around the restaurant for the blond, hoping she's in the back or on a break or something. No luck, though, Brittany still hasn't appeared as Santana gets her food and she feels more upset than she probably should.

Santana eats slowly, feeling sad, and feeling lame about feeling sad, and briefly wonders if she scared Brittany away by coming out to her. Her mind wanders to the worst possible scenario: Brittany went home after school that day and told her parents that she had a weird, totally lesbian stalker who had a strange obsession with her and also with bread sticks, and then her parents packed everything up and they went back to...where ever Brittany was from, Santana doesn't even know. That's totally unrealistic, Santana knows, but she's feeling sorry for herself and can't help but wallow a little bit. From there, her brain moves to the possibility that Brittany was messing with her, and now that she knows Santana's gay secret, she's going to tell the whole school and everybody will laugh and then Santana will be the one who will have to pack up and move.

Santana sighs and pushes her half-empty plate away and gets ready to leave. She's so wrapped up in her depressing thoughts that she doesn't even notice someone approaching her table until a voice speaks up.

"Oh no, you're not leaving already, are you?"

Santana looks up and Brittany is there, unbuttoning her coat and throwing her stuff into the other side of the booth. "I'm late," she explains, "sorry."

"Late for...what?" Santana asks, confused, as Brittany sits down. It's not like they had plans, Santana would never forget that.

"For supper, duh." Brittany says, like it's obvious. Then she adds, "You're always eating alone, and since I'm not working today I thought I'd come keep you company. But, you were about to leave?"

"Oh! No, no," Santana says quickly, shrugging off her jacket. She wasn't hungry a second ago, but now there's no way she's leaving the restaurant. "I was just...stretching. I mean." She looks down at her mostly empty plate. "I'm done with my burger, but we could get dessert?"

"Great! We should totally have pie." Brittany beams at her, then waves the older waitress over. "Hey Gladys, can we get a slice of the lemon meringue and a slice of the cherry pie? Thanks!"

"Sure, hon!" Gladys smiles fondly at Brittany and walks off, and Santana and Brittany sit in companionable silence for a moment.

"So I have a question," Brittany says, her voice dropping to a whisper, "about what you told me earlier. On the bleachers."

Santana nods, a blush rising to her cheeks.

"Why haven't you told anybody else?" Brittany asks. "I mean. It's nothing to be ashamed of, you shouldn't have to hide from everybody."

Santana shakes her head. "I'm not ashamed, it's not really like that. I just..." she struggles to put her feelings into words. "I just don't want people at school to treat me differently. High school is hard enough as it is, right? And there's only one more year to go."

Brittany nods, and chews on her bottom lip thoughtfully. It's adorable and Santana wishes she could lean across the table and kiss her. "Okay, I get that. But what if...what if you had a girlfriend? Would you tell people then, or would it still be a secret?"

Santana's stomach flutters, but Brittany's face is unreadable. Once again Santana finds herself unable to tell if Brittany's fishing for something or just making conversation. She wants to answer honestly, though, so she thinks for a moment and then says, "Yeah. Yeah, it might be different, then. But this...hypothetical girlfriend would have to be patient with me. I'm not ready to tell everybody all at once, but I would...I don't know. Take some baby steps."

"Baby steps, okay," Brittany smiles at Santana, and looks like she's about to say something else when she's interrupted by Gladys, sliding their plates of pie onto the table. Brittany hesitates for a moment, and then pulls the lemon meringue closer to her and slides the cherry over to Santana. Cherry pie is Santana's favorite, but she's never ordered it from Brittany, she's pretty sure. Maybe it was a lucky guess, or maybe the blond is a mind reader. Maybe this is what it's like to have someone really get you, they can order you pie and know what you're thinking before you say anything. Santana doesn't make friends easily, it takes her a while to warm up to people and let her guard down, but she feels like she's known Brittany for years, instead of just a couple of days.

They're distracted by their pie for a while, Brittany mumbling "Oh my god, this is so good" around a mouthful. She licks a bit of meringue off her fork with her tongue, pink and wet, and Santana shivers. When they're both about halfway through their pieces, Brittany reaches out and switches their plates around, trading them. "This way we get the best of both worlds," she says wisely, scooping up a forkful of the cherry pie.

Santana opens her mouth in mock indignation. "What if I don't like lemon?"

"You do," Brittany says quietly. "You ordered it the first day I met you."

Santana looks down quickly, fighting off a huge grin. She glances back at Brittany and then down at the pie. "But you ate all the meringue already, and that's the best part," she teases.

"Deal with it," Brittany shoots back, grinning, and Santana reaches across the table to snag another cherry off of Brittany's plate. Brittany giggles.

They order some coffee as they finish off their pie, and sit in the booth talking and laughing through several refills. Santana tells Brittany all about glee club, and fills her in on all the important school gossip she can think of. They compare class schedules, discuss their favorite TV shows – Brittany's into One Tree Hill, while Santana is more of a 90210 girl – and Santana listens intently while Brittany talks about her cat (whom she adores), and various dance classes she's taken.

Finally, despite all the coffee, Brittany can't stop yawning. Santana checks her phone and is surprised to see that it's after midnight, they've been talking for hours. They get up and sleepily collect their stuff, and Brittany pays for their food, smiling and waving away Santana's cash.

They walk out into the night air, Santana fishing her keys out of her pocket. "Did you drive here?" she asks Brittany. "Do you need a ride home?" She doesn't want to say goodbye to Brittany, doesn't want this night to end.

Brittany walks with Santana towards her car. She shakes her head. "That's okay, I'm only a couple of blocks away." She doesn't seem like she's in any hurry to leave, either. They stand next to Santana's car for a moment, and Brittany says, "Tonight was really awesome, I had a good time."

"So did I," Santana agrees. "I'm glad you showed up."

Brittany shifts on her feet, inching closer to Santana, and Santana notices she has a familiar expression on her face. It confuses her for a second, and then she realizes: that's the way guys usually look when they want to kiss you. It's an annoying, dopey look on guys, but pretty adorable on Brittany. Brittany keeps glancing down at Santana's mouth and then back up to meet her eyes.

Santana feels dizzy, and for one second considers jumping in her car and racing away. But that's not what she wants, not at all. This is all happening very fast, it feels like, and she thought she was ready but now she's freaking out.

"Um," she says, trying to regain control of herself. "We should totally hang out again. Like the next time you're not working."

"Of course," Brittany nods, "we totally should." She's even closer to Santana, somehow, and Santana's feels breathless.

"We could...we could go somewhere else, even," she babbles, hardly aware of the words coming out of her mouth. "If you're sick of being here all the time, that is."

Brittany smiles at her, and reaches down to brush a stray hair from Santana's forehead. "We can go where ever you want," she says patiently, her voice low. "But you need to stop talking so I can kiss you now, okay?"

Thank god someone is in control of this situation, because Santana sure as hell isn't. She nods and Brittany cups the back of her neck and pulls her closer. They kiss in the moonlight, leaning up against Santana's car, and when Brittany backs off, Santana links her hands around Brittany's back, pulling her closer, keeping them pressed together.

The next day, Santana heads to Brittany's locker as soon as she gets to school. The blond is already there, rummaging around, and gives Santana a big smile as she walks up. They had stayed in the Breadstix parking lot for quite a while last night, kissing and trying to say goodbye and kissing some more. Santana got like, zero sleep, but she feels awesome.

"Hey," Brittany says cutely, then leans in and whispers, "I really liked those sweet lady kisses last night."

"I did too," Santana whispers back, laughing a little at Brittany's strange way of phrasing things. They stand at Brittany's locker, flirting and laughing as more students arrive in the hallway. "I'm going to walk you to class," Santana announces, "but there's a problem."

Brittany frowns. "What's that?"

Santana shifts, feeling dumb, looking around at the crowd, and then back at Brittany. "I really want to hold you hand," she explains quietly, "but..." She gestures around.

Brittany looks too, confused for a second and then her face brightens. "You're not ready for that, oh right," she says. "That's no problem." She extends her hand out to Santana, fingers curled in except for her pinky.

Santana doesn't get it, just looks at Brittany for a minute. Then the blond smiles at her, and grabs at Santana's hand, linking their pinkies together. "Baby steps," she says to Santana, "and before you know it, we'll be up to hand holding."

Santana smiles at her gratefully, glad that Brittany understands her. They walk down the hall, barely touching, swinging their hands between them, and it suddenly occurs to Santana that her senior year is going to be the best.