Lean on Me
Self-Absorbed Author's Ramblings: Okay, first of all, I'd like to take a moment to apologize for some of the huge holes in the previous chapter. They're been brought to my attention, and I appreciate that, and I acknowledge that they are some pretty big goofs 0.o
But I'm kind of done with this and am not planning to go back and rewrite the chapter anymore. I will, however, learn from them and try not to make the same mistakes in the future. This is all a huge learning experience, and I'm grateful to all of you who've reviewed with critiques, praise, complaints, questions and everything in between. There's no better way of learning something than through a hands on, back-and-forth experience like this. Thanks a lot, y'all. :)
Now for this chapter. It's really just a side thing, hardly contributing anything plotwise, and just answering a few of the 'what happened after?' questions. Reading it isn't even that necessary xD It's just a bit of a for-the-heck-of-it piece with some of my headcanons for their future.
But yeah. Not much happens. Pretty much just a little oneshot that might actually be able to stand on its own.
Here we go.
Rubbing her temples as her groggy mind reentered the waking world, Brittany wrinkled her nose at the smell that assaulted her senses all night. Ridiculously clean in a way that felt artificial and unnatural. Nothing like the pure, real smell of healthy grass and trees at the park.
It wasn't the disgusting smell of smoke and garbage, sure, but it still unnerved her with the way it just didn't feel right to have that scent hanging around.
The hospital smell.
Brittany stood up and slowly arched her back and stretched out her arms. A makeshift sleeping space in a room that wasn't hers just couldn't compare to the soft, queen-sized bed at home. Brittany liked to think that it was called that way because she and Santana were the Bicorn and Unicorn Queens that belonged on that bed together.
Still, the reason why she was here in the first place was worth every discomfort and inconvenience experienced in the past several hours.
Smiling to herself, Brittany approached Santana's bed to see that she was still sleeping. Her eyelashes fluttered slightly, and the faintest of smiles coaxed their way onto her lips. Brittany couldn't be sure of what Santana was dreaming of right now, but one thing was for sure.
No more nightmares.
Seeing Santana on that bed reminded Brittany of all the previous times she'd accompanied Santana in a hospital. Being places that always made her anxious and uneasy because of her father, Santana hardly ever went on her own, preferring to bring Brittany along, or some other close and trusted friend.
As her mind took her from memory to memory, Brittany observed Santana's features, taking in everything that was already memorized after so many years.
If one looked closely enough, there was a portion along Santana's left eyebrow that was a little uneven, and a touch lighter. It once came with a heavily bruised and swollen eye, and a whole lot of blood. Brittany could still remember how it made her heart crumble into little molecule-sized pieces when she first saw it.
And there was another feature, completely invisible when Santana wore make up, but relatively clear now that she wasn't. It was a faint line on her right cheek, one that had once been a huge purple mess back in the day.
Besides those little details from the awful night, there were some other features Brittany liked to look at. Like the circles under Santana's eyes that were a few shades darker, thanks to stress, and there were the lightest of lines and almost-wrinkles that told the stories of how hard she worked to climb up to where she was now.
As much as Santana complained about these details and fussed over them with make up and trips to the parlor, Brittany loved seeing them at night before bed until the morning before breakfast. She loved the stories they told, the strength they showed. They said, 'I am Santana and I'm a Survivor!'
The door bursting open, shattered Brittany's train of thought and she turned to see a man stumbling into the room with several boxes in his arms. "The cookies! The cookies! Dammit, they're gonna fall! They're gonna fall! THEY'RE GONNA FALL!"
Brittany rushed forward and caught the box of pastries just before they hit the ground. "Miguel, shut up!" She relieved him of several more of the boxes and hissed a reprimand. "She's still asleep!"
He smiled sheepishly and shrugged, still holding another box, one that Brittany could see contained a cake. "Sorry!" The apology was whispered now, better than the shouts he'd filled the room with just a moment ago.
Brittany rolled her eyes and checked on Santana before putting the boxes down. She'd rolled onto her other side and gone back to sleep. "You amazingly didn't wake her."
"So where's the baby?" Miguel put the cake down beside the other pastries and waited for Brittany's answer.
The baby. Their baby. Brittany wasn't going to stop feeling a little thrilled every time the thought came to her. "At the nursery. They're making sure he's as perfect as ever." And of course, he was perfect. Brittany was sure their child would grow up to be tall and strong and talented and successful and amazing.
Brittany nodded, cringing a little as she recalled last night's operation. "Yeah, Santana kept insisting on a normal birth 'till the last minute when the doctor said he was too big to fit." The doctors kept congratulating them and saying their child was going to grow up to be really tall. One of them even said they had a basketball player in the making.
"Whoa, whoa. Okay, a little too much detail." Miguel shook his head while waving his arms and signaling for her to stop. "I'm not crazy about thinking what my cousin looks like down there."
Brittany rolled her eyes. "You asked." And she was hardly giving any details at all. Sometimes Brittany forgot that Miguel was just a year younger than they were when he behaved more like he was at least ten more years behind.
Instead of responding, Miguel's face lit up and a grin that was more than a little unnerving showed itself. "Can I see the stitches?"
"MIGUEL!" Brittany gave his shoulder a light swat. "No."
"Damn, I was bragging to Anita that I'd get a good look at it before she would."
Brittany ruffled his hair, "Keep dreaming."
Miguel pushed her hand away and walked to the wall, effectively out of her reach because Brittany wasn't going to leave Santana's side anytime soon. An awkward silence followed, in which Brittany found her thoughts wandering over to the rest of Santana's family. Though her cousins Miguel and Anita lived in the same neighborhood and visited regularly, the same couldn't be said for Mr. and Mrs. Lopez. Or Alma Lopez. Or majority of Santana's family.
"Have they heard?"
Though no names were mentioned, Miguel understood and nodded his head. "Anita called them and invited them to fly over here and celebrate."
As much as Brittany despised them, and as much as Santana feared them, they were still related. Though she rarely talks about it, Santana would sometimes sit by herself at the porch and just zone out. And the look in her eyes was a look that showed she was entering the what if world. The what if I was still their daughter? What if they didn't see me as an abnormality that they no longer associated with?
Brittany would rather not think of these issues, but she was here now and might as well deal with it. "Do I want to know what they said?"
Miguel shook his head and mumbled his next words, hesitant about letting them out. "They… they said the only thing they're celebrating… is your separation and… and Santana finally seeing the light."
"I figured as much." If they refused to visit their daughter after she'd been brutally beaten, and if they still refused to speak to her years later, then they surely wouldn't bother seeing any of their grandchildren. Frankly, Brittany wouldn't want any of their children to be anywhere near those people. They sucked the magic out of the world.
"Guess that's just how it is." Miguel shrugged again. After a pause, he said, "I still can't believe they actually got so many of us to think she was the bad guy. The way they went on about it whenever someone asked, it was like Santana had a whole orgy prostitution whatever thing going on and freaked when her parents found out." He squared his shoulders and deepened his voice in an imitation of Mr. Lopez. "She disrespected her parents! She was out of control! Driven by vice and immorality! Simply beyond reason!"
"Shut up before I throw a pitcher at you."
Miguel stopped abruptly, eyes wide while Brittany looked over her shoulder to see that Santana was awake.
"How are you?" Brittany silently scolded herself for talking about this here within Santana's hearing range instead of outside the room like any sane and considerate person would have. "Should I call a nurse? Are you in pain?"
"Good morning to you too." Santana took Brittany's hand and gave it a kiss. "I'm fine." Thoroughly looking her over, Brittany could see that Santana looked dazed and tired, but otherwise relaxed. "Hi, Miguel."
"I brought cake and cookies and some other stuff. If you wanted to throw something at me, I'd suggest those instead."
Santana rolled her eyes, "Well that's a great example to set for my children. Throw food at Uncle Miguel."
Brittany laughed at the idea of babies using food as projectiles and aiming at an already splattered Miguel. Then a distraction came in the form of Brittany's phone receiving a new message.
"Is that work again?" Santana asked. "I remember last night just before we went in, they wouldn't quit bugging you 'till you had to shut the damn thing off."
It was from work. "Yeah, I mean it's not like the company's gonna crumble without me." Brittany tossed her phone back into her bag and returned to her place at Santana's side. "They can't seem to get that I wanna spend time with my family for a bit."
"Well that's a good thing, isn't it?" Miguel said, "If they're so dependent on you, and your articles always end up being printed, it practically screams YOU'RE GETTING A PROMOTION SOON."
"Or it's saying I'M A BIGGER BABY THAN YOUR REAL BABY."
"They have no idea what a big baby is." Santana said, causing Brittany to wish she'd worded that differently. Still, Santana smiled like the whole thing amused her instead of offending her.
Another ring filled the room, this time more insistent, a call.
With a groan of frustration, Brittany walked back to her phone and was about to hang up on the caller, but stopped at the last minute. This one wasn't a call from work.
After a short moment of hesitation, Brittany answered the call and put the phone to her ear.
From the other end of the line, Quin's voice sounded stressed out, "Britt! Help! I wasn't supposed to call so you guys can have some privacy but this is an emergency!"
The way Quinn was acting was worrying Brittany, and her mind started to go through some very bad scenarios. She tried to stay calm and asked, "What's wrong?" It was just like the universe to give them a taste of something good and then shatter their happiness with heartbreaking news.
"Valerie hid my wallet!"
Brittany released the breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding. That was it? "Anything else?" She briefly mouthed, 'Valerie hid Quinn's wallet,' to answer the question Miguel and Santana were probably both thinking.
"My money, my license, our graduation picture, a letter from Rachel, it's all in there!" The lack of urgency in Brittany's voice only seemed to further agitate Quinn. "I need my damn wallet, Brittany! And Valerie just keeps running away every time I ask her where it is. I am never babysitting for you two without backup ever again."
"Just calm down for a minute, okay?" Brittany spoke slowly, hoping to soothe Quinn. "There are two places where she likes to hide stuff. Ready?"
Quinn took a moment to calm her breathing before she replied. "Uhhuh."
"There's a loose floorboard in her room, two planks away from her bedside table. Santana's convinced that we have to nail that down soon or Val's gonna hide alchohol in there when she's a teenager."
"It's a realistic possibility!" Santana cut in.
"Another place is under Lord Shrubbington." It was a hedge Brittany regularly trimmed into the shape of a fat cat that looked exactly like a green Lord Tubbington. It was a way of keeping the memory of him around. Brittany liked to think he sometimes went down from cat heaven to lounge on top of Lord Shrubbington and watch over Brittany and Santana and mew at how far they'd come and how Santana no longer had to worry about how he'd judge them whenever he watched them get their Sweet Lady Kisses on. (He probably still liked to watch them at it in Kitty Heaven. Brittany was almost sure of that)
Either way, she hoped he finally kicked his smoking habit because the clouds didn't need all that smoke clogging everything up.
"Okay, I'll check there. Thanks!" Just before she hung up, Quinn muttered something along the lines of, "I can only imagine the trouble that's going to happen once Valerie starts training her new sidekick."
"Val pulling a prank on Q again?" Santana asked once the phone was back in the bag.
Brittany nodded, unable to keep herself from smiling. It was probably mean to think so, but Quinn's panic had been kind of amusing.
"I remember last time I was there, she put peanut butter in the gravy."
Santana frowned, "And I worked really hard on that gravy."
Just then, there was a knock on the door, and a nurse came in, greeted them good morning, and checked on Santana. "Your son is doing well, went through his examinations with impressive results." Brittany felt a rush of pride. "Would you like to see him?"
"Hell yeah!" Santana said, then added, "But can I also get something for the pain? It's starting to kick in again."
The nurse nodded before leaving the room.
"Congrats, you guys." Miguel clapped.
"I am so proud of both of you." Brittany squeezed Santana's hand. It didn't matter that people like Mr. and Mrs. Lopez didn't have the sense to understand the importance of this experience and be proud of their daughter. The people who really mattered, the loyal friends, the family members who knew how to act like family members, they were here and more than willing to help.
And they were almost as proud of Santana as Brittany was.
"Thanks," Santana squeezed back. "This is what magic's like, right? Another precious unicorn to add to our herd."
"Right." Brittany bent over to kiss Santana. The woman who went through a hell of a lot to get to New York, become a lawyer, a wife, and a mother. And despite being together for so many years, she still managed to send shudders through Brittany with just a touch, and butterflies in her stomach with just several words.
The kiss was long enough that Miguel started to squirm and eventually face the corner away from them.
S-A.A.R.: Thanks again to all y'all who've taken the time to read this stuff :)