A/N: So hi there. I usually write Naomily Skins fics and this is my first trip outside that. I'm not a massive fan of Glee and I generally agree with the complaints that it's sexist and heterosexist and inconsistent...but Naya Rivera is super hot and talented...so...yeah. This whole thing came about because my neighbours are crazy and were keeping me up at night and I had an idea and went with it. It was really just for me and a lot of it was written after a couple of glasses of wine and you can see the lazy writing a mile off...I wasn't going to post it but then thought what the hell...someone might like it.

This is totally AU and some of you will probably hate me for messing with your favourite characters so...sorry 'bout that. It's really just for Santana and Brittany fans I guess. I don't know much about this fandom other than that it's pretty fierce, so I hope this is okay.

Also, just as a disclaimer I want to say that there are some homophobic and racist and completely politically incorrect things said in this story which are views I totally disagree with, but I felt they worked for the story and the style of it. I don't mean to cause offence and I hope I don't...mostly they're meant to be funny in a Santana bitchy kind of way.

This is about half done...I was going to wait until it was finished to post it but fuck it, I've had some wine tonight and I feel like posting it...the rest will be up as soon as I write it.

I'll shut up now...hope you like it!



Santana Lopez has always been clever but she's learned a few things in her seventeen years.

Like she knows that if she jumps the fence and cuts across the park on George Street and down the side of that old lady's house on Walker Street she can hang out at Puck's another fifteen minutes and not be late for work. She knows she can't be late for work anymore otherwise that closet case Mr Berry will fire her ass.

She knows that she can bribe her annoying eight year old cousin Anita into keeping her secrets with a block of chocolate.

She knows that that fat cop Tanaka is always waiting on Oak Drive to bust her and Puck and sometimes Tina and Mike and Mercedes for skipping school because there's a Donut shop there. They always avoid Oak Drive.

She knows that she likes girls. She knows that that's not normal in Lima, Ohio. She knows her aunt knows and doesn't like it and prays for her in church but as long as Santana keeps it out of her face she doesn't say anything.

She knows without a doubt that Puck will always have her back and she will always have his.

But one of the most important things Santana has learned is her place in the world. Her place in this shitty town. She knows that there are two types of people in Lima. The right type and the wrong type. The right type live in the sprawling houses along the lake and drive luxury cars and send their kids to the private school on the hill. The wrong type live in the cramped apartment blocks or narrow houses across town in Lima Heights and work in menial jobs like her aunt and most don't care if their kids even go to school. The wrong type never get out of this town unless it's to prison, like Puck's dad.

Santana knows she's the wrong type. She's known it for as long as she can remember because that's what she's been told her whole life. That's what people love to remind her about.

But the thing Santana knows most of all is that she's never going to get out of this town.


Santana Lopez learned only a year ago how to tell when a girl is looking at her in a certain way that means I want to see you naked and not, I just like your t-shirt. It had been a tough lesson, more than a few awkward situations with unsuspecting straight girls, but now she could spot it a mile off. Like the way the smokin' hot blonde girl sitting with her family in the corner booth is practically eye fucking her right now.

Santana slips her hands into the back pockets of her black skinny jeans and leans back, resting against the edge of the counter. She knows that when she stands like this the fabric of her already tight work shirt pulls even tighter and her boobs look fucking fantastic. The blonde's gaze once again slides across to her and Santana holds it, stares right back and smirks playfully. The blonde gives her a small smile and then looks away, an obvious blush colouring her cheeks. Santana smiles proudly to herself. She knows how to play this game with girls. Long before she ever admitted out loud to liking them she'd watched Puck and her older cousin Ricky work their magic and flirt with girls. She knew the push and pull and how to never give too much. Giving too much has never been one of Santana's problems.

"Lopez. Table four is up."

The brunette sighs and pushes herself away from the counter, turning and picking up the two plates. On her way over to the table she glances at the clock on the far wall and winces. Another two hours until her shift is over at five, and she still has her English assignment to finish for tomorrow morning. She knows she should've written it yesterday afternoon, especially since Puck had dragged her to a party on the edge of town last night and she'd only gotten home this morning, managing to get a solid 20 minutes of sleep before she had to come into work. She did get to second base with that cute redhead though, so it was kind of worth it. But still, school is only just back and she's already behind and on her way to fucking up her senior year. Not that it matters all that much really. It's not like her grades are going to count toward anything.

She leaves the meals with the two drunk businessmen at table four, both of them leering at her boobs when she leans to put their plates down, and she just fucking knows that they're staring at her ass as she walks away. She tenses her fists, filled with blazing anger that only grows when she acknowledges that she can't do anything about it. Every shift she has to let the assholes leer and make suggestive comments and pinch her ass. She needs this job.

Back at the counter again, Santana takes a few deep breaths and calms down. Decides that flirting with the hot blonde will help waste the hours away, but when she looks back over there the girl and her family are gone, leaving Santana with nothing pretty to look at. Well, Kurt would argue with that. She rolls her eyes and curses her shitty fucking life, slides her phone out of her pocket and covertly checks her messages under the counter. One text from Puck begging her to tell him about the redhead from last night, (Santana never gives him details and delights in teasing him), and asking if she wants to hang out tonight. And one from her aunt, asking her to stop by the store to get a few things after she picks up Anita from dance class.

Fuck this, Santana almost says out loud.

"Better put that away," a familiar high-pitched voice practically sings over her shoulder, "if Mr Berry sees you with that he'll definitely fire your ass this time."

Santana huffs, slips her phone into her jeans and turns. "Thanks for the pep talk Princess."

Kurt grins and bats his eyelids. "It's understandable for you to be bitter. I am prettier than you after all."

Santana smiles and points to her chest. "Yeah, but you don't have this rack."

"No, and you can keep that," Kurt answers, scrunching his face in disgust.

They share a smile and Santana hates the fact that she doesn't hate Kurt as much as she likes to pretend she does. She wants to hate him for queening out in Lima Heights and for not keeping his voice five notches lower and for wearing his clothes so fucking tight. She wants to hate him for not trying so desperately to fly under the radar like she does and for making her feel some weird sense of protectiveness over the kid whenever Karofsky is around looking for a fight. She wants to hate him for having such a fucking supporting father when her aunt looks at her with barely disguised contempt. But she doesn't hate him. Kurt makes her laugh and the time at this shithole pass quicker. And his knowledge of beauty products and hair and skin care comes in handy sometimes. So he's alright. Not that she'll ever tell him that.

"Well, better get back to it." he tips his head and smiles. "And try not to scowl so much Santana, I need the tips. Plus, you're already getting wrinkles."


When Santana rounds the corner of the gym that her cousin's dance school is in it's nearing 5.30pm and last night's drinking and lack of sleep have well and truly caught up with her. She feels like shit. Her head is thumping and she's hot and sticky. She's changed out of her work shirt but her t-shirt is sticking to her back, and the relentless sun isn't fucking helping. She just wants to go home and take a shower, not run errands for her aunt and pick up her cousin who is sure to talk and sing all the way home and make her headache worse.

She throws the door open and rushes through, too tired to be bothered about possibly making a commotion, but when she walks inside and pulls off her sunglasses she realises that Anita isn't there. She isn't waiting inside the door with her stupid Barbie backpack like she always is and no one else seems to be around.


Santana hears nothing in response.

Panic instantly grips her, her heart stuttering and then beating rapidly. Santana knows all too well what it's like in her neighbourhood, growing up she's seen and heard some things no child should ever have to, and she knows that Anita knows better than to go wandering around. But sometimes her silly cousin sees something shiny or a cat and decides to follow it and one day she's going to get herself into trouble. Santana silently prays that that's not today. The brunette glances around and decides to check the other rooms and halls first, and it's not until she's hastily pushing through another door that she hears the faint sound of music coming from further down the hall.

The closer she gets the louder the music does, and she recognises the song. Some rapper she forgets the name of that Puck blasts in his car. As she's about to pull open the door Santana glances through the window in it and has to do a double take because fuck, there's a girl about her age inside dancing like a maniac to the beat of the music and Santana is instantly mesmerised. For a second she forgets about trying to find Anita and the way her heart is thumping with adrenaline and that a moment ago she was picturing her young cousin in all kinds of horrific situations. She watches the way the girl's long and strong body moves, the way her muscles stretch and contract and the absolute control she possesses over them. And Santana can see most of them, the girl dressed only in some very short black shorts and a tight white singlet. Santana has never seen anything like her. Graceful is the only coherent thought in her mind, and it's so out of place in Santana's world that she doesn't even know what to think.

But then she hears clapping. It pulls her out of her daze and she realises that it's coming from inside the room and that the music has stopped. She angles her head to get a better look and finds Anita sitting on the floor next to her bag, an excited and awed grin on her chubby little face that Santana just has the urge to smack. That grin pisses her off beyond measure because Anita should know better and being terrified that something happened to her is just another fucking thing that Santana has to deal with today.

She huffs and pushes through the door, that surge of anger that's never far away coursing through her as she marches over to her cousin who stands nervously when she sees her coming.

"Anita Maria Lopez, why isn't your butt out there waiting for me to pick you up? I told you to wait there every time I pick you up."

She stands with her hands on her hips and scowls, a small part of her delighted when she sees the smile drop from her cousin's face and fear take over.

"Oh, that's my fault. I saw her waiting outside and asked if she wanted to come in here and wait with me."

Santana blinks. Drops her hands to her sides and turns to the girl. In her anger she'd forgotten that she was even there.

A warm smile and sparkling blue eyes shine back at her and Santana feels her anger slowly fading away, replaced by an altogether confusing feeling. Who the fuck is this girl? She looks so innocent and sincere and sweet that Santana doesn't know what to say in response. Usually she would tell the girl to mind her own fucking business and leave her cousin alone and throw in some creative insults, but all her usual snarky comments desert her because for some fucked up reason she can't imagine insulting this girl she's just met. She blames it on being tired and hungover.

So instead she just stares, becoming aware that the scowl is still on her face when she sees the blonde frown.

"Sorry," the girl offers softly, looking down at her feet.

Santana can't explain it but she feels bad and that in turn pisses her off because she never feels bad. But she feels like she shouldn't have upset this girl. Wants to fix it. So she relaxes her shoulders, slipping her hands into her pockets and shrugging.

"Whatever. It's fine. Do you teach here or something?"

Before she even asks Santana knows the answer is no. Knows that none of the dance teachers in Lima Heights look like this girl. Nobody around here looks like this girl.

The blonde lifts her head, a smile returning and her eyes lighting up again. It sparks something in the brunette that she tries to ignore.

"Oh no. I just dance here. I know the Changs."

"You know Mike?"

"Yeah. He's an awesome dancer."

Santana nods her head. She knows Mike has crazy skills, the best dancer at their school. His parents run the dance school.

"Wait. You go to Lima Heights? I haven't seen you around."

The blonde shakes her head. "I just started this year at McKinley Prep."

Santana narrows her eyes. Thinks that maybe that's what threw her off when she first saw the girl - just how much the blonde doesn't belong here. She could see it as soon as she laid eyes on her. She isn't one of the Lima losers.

"You go to McKinley but you come all the way down to Lima Heights to use this shitty gym?"

The girl's eyes flick down alarmingly to Anita when Santana curses and the brunette wants to laugh. If she only knew half of the things that kid's heard, and seen for that matter.

The blonde fidgets with her own fingers absentmindedly and Santana can't help but imagine ways those fingers could be put to better use. Mentally slaps herself for thinking so much like Puck.

"I just moved to Lima and don't know much about the place but Mike said I could dance here. Sometimes we dance together."

Santana eyes the blonde and scoffs. This girl is seriously hot and she knows exactly why Mike offered the gym. She almost wants to high five him for it, and if it were another girl she might when she sees him at school tomorrow, but this girl is looking her right in the eye and smiling at her like she's not scared or wary at all and hasn't heard the stories about her or this neighbourhood and it's making Santana feel all kinds of confusing things. Like she doesn't want this girl to get into trouble here.

"Yeah well, welcome to the neighbourhood. Friendly tip; you should be careful around here and lock doors. A girl like you is likely to get mugged...or worse."

The girl frowns. "Wait, what? You're joking right?"

"Does it look like I'm joking?"

Santana quirks an eyebrow out of habit and the girl looks a little worried. The brunette wants to reassure her but before she can she feels a tug on her arm.


The brunette glares down at her cousin. "What, midget? Grownups are talking."

"We need to go home so I can feed my sea monkeys. It's their dinnertime."

"Oooh! I used to have sea monkeys," the blonde says excitedly. "I love those things."

Santana squints at the blonde. She doesn't know what to make of this girl who dances like a goddess and has a banging body and gets excited by sea monkeys.

"You should come over and see mine some day," Anita offers.

"Sure, that would be great."

Santana glances quickly between her cousin and the blonde, not sure exactly what's happening or how Anita has so easily talked the girl into agreeing to come to their house some time. It's been a weird day and it's time for her to go home.

"Grab your bag," she tells her cousin before looking back to the blonde. "And uh, thanks for waiting with her."

Santana doesn't know how she went from being pissed off to thanking the girl, but the blonde's smile is just fucking beaming so at the moment she doesn't really care.

"It was fun," the girl replies. "I like having an audience too." She turns her attention to Anita. "Thanks for keeping me company, little miss. You're a great dancer. I'll see you again soon hopefully."

Santana rolls her eyes at the way Anita is smiling goofily, so obviously delighted at the attention and praise.

"You too," the girl adds, and Santana glances up to find the blonde smiling at her in the completely unguarded way she has this whole time. The way that leaves the brunette unsure of exactly what to think and say. "My name is Brittany by the way."

Santana wants to laugh because of course this girl's name is Brittany. It had to be Brittany or Courtney or Tiffany or any of those pretty rich white girl names. A world away from her own name.

"Santana," she offers confidently, her chin tilting up out of habit. She learned long ago that if you can't say your own name with strength then you'll never get anywhere.

"Santana," Brittany echoes. "That's pretty."

The brunette shrugs. "I'm pretty sure my parents wanted to call me Satan but the nurses refused to write it."

Brittany doesn't laugh, just looks at her with a confused frown.

"Why would your parents want to call you that?"

Santana stares at the girl, not sure how to even go about answering that. Decides it's best not to even try. Shrugs it off. "Silly joke." She turns to her cousin who has only grown more impatient. "Let's go midget."

Brittany waves at Anita and has that carefree smile back on her face. "Bye bye. See you next time."

Anita waves excitedly and Santana nods her head, which slowly turns into a shake as they walk out of the gym. She has no idea why or what or how, but there's something about that blonde.


That night, despite complete mental and physical exhaustion draining her body of the desire to do anything but sleep, Santana finds herself staring at the cracks in the ceiling thinking about a certain blonde girl, driving herself half crazy because she's not sure why she even cares.

Sure, Brittany is hot. But so was that redhead at the party last night. And that brunette the week before. And the blonde the weekend before that. There are a lot of good looking girls in Lima, and just Santana's type too. That farm-girl-next-door-innocent-but-not-really thing that a lot of them have going on. Brittany seems to have it too, but it's more than that. She seems nice and not at all stuck up like half the dicks at McKinley. The blonde didn't look at Santana like she was a piece of trash, not like that Rachel fucking Berry who always looks like she's smelled something bad with that enormous beak of hers. Brittany just seems nice and genuine and friendly and that's rare in Lima. And yeah, she's probably the hottest girl Santana has ever laid eyes on.

Santana finds herself looking forward to the next time she has to pick up her cousin from dance class.


The next day at school, Santana catches up with Mike during lunch. He's sitting with his arm around Tina, and the brunette vaguely remembers something about them hooking up at a party the other week. She didn't know that they were a thing now, but it seems like they might be. She likes this new development and sees much opportunity for her to give them shit about it. She also feels the slightest twinge of relief that maybe Mike isn't actually after Brittany. Santana likes Mike. Everyone likes Mike. She doesn't mind Tina. They're what she would call friends if she had friends. Friends other than Puck that is. Although he's more like a brother really.

"Yo Chang."

Both Asians glance up at her.

"Boy Chang," she clarifies.

Tina grimaces at her lack of tact. "Always such a charmer, Santana."

"It's how I get all the girls," she smirks.

Mike grins, unfazed. "What's up Lopez?"

"You know some girl who goes to McKinley named Brittany?"

Santana knows she shouldn't even be asking. She doesn't like people knowing her business, and showing any interest in this strange girl is revealing more than she'd like to, but she wants to hear what Mike knows about her. She wants to know where Brittany came from and what she likes and whether she's straight or not and if she's single. The last two things don't really matter so much, the brunette has a pretty solid track record of overcoming those obstacles, but she just wants to know everything she can about the girl.

Her eyes flick over to Tina and Santana is somewhat pleased with herself when she sees a flash of jealously in the girl's face at the mention of another girl's name. They may be the closest thing she has to friends but Santana can't help fucking with them whenever she can.

But Mike just shrugs, always unfazed by everything. Santana's pretty sure a bomb could go off and Mike would be all cool and collected about it. In fact, the last time there'd been a knife fight at the school, Mike had helped to break it up. Nothing seems to get to him.

"Sure," he replies. "She's probably the best dancer I've ever seen. She just moved here with her family. How do you know her?"

"She was at the gym when I picked up Anita yesterday," Santana answers casually, like she's not dying to hear everything he knows about the girl. "She mentioned that she knows you."

Mike just nods. "Yeah, she's cool."

Santana waits for more but when it becomes clear that if she wants it she's going to have to ask, she rolls her eyes. Santana Lopez doesn't ask for things, and Mike thinking the girl is cool doesn't mean all that much because he thinks everyone is cool.

But it's too late, and Tina must have noticed something in her expression because she's smirking and asking Santana why she even cares.

"I thought Santana Lopez doesn't chase girls?" Tina says mockingly, parroting a douchey comment Santana had made a couple of weeks ago when she was drunk, "I don't need to chase girls because they always come to me". It was mostly true, but still, even the brunette knew it was a douche thing to say. They'd loved to tease her about it since. But Santana Lopez doesn't take that shit.

"Pipe down Memoirs of a Geisha. I just wanted to know what kind of creeper is hanging around my little cousin. If Mike says she's cool then she's cool."

"I'm not even Japanese," Tina frowns.

"Whatup losers."

Santana rolls her eyes. "Speaking of creepers."

Puck leans around her quickly and kisses her on the cheek, catching her by surprise and darting out of the way before she can slap him. Not that it stops her trying.

She wipes at her cheek with her sleeve as the Changs laugh.

"Fucking hell Puckerman. You've probably just given me an STD."

"Don't say I never give you anything."

Puck takes a seat across from Mike and Tina and opens a Red Bull, slamming all of it down in one go. Santana watches the display with obvious disgust.

"You're a caveman."

"I'll take that as a compliment," Puck replies with his mouth now full of pizza.

"You would."

"Got to keep my strength up," he continues, mouth still full of what used to be pizza. "Between football practice and Quinn and work I'm a fucking zombie. Can't keep my eyes open in class."

"Not that it would make a difference to your grades," Santana adds, but her friends are used to ignoring her snarky comments.

"So you and Quinn are still a thing?"

Santana wants to punch Tina for asking that question because now she has to sit here and listen to Puck talk about Quinn Fabray which is as close to verbal masturbation as you can get. It's sickening, watching her tough as shit best friend turn into some kind of bambi-eyed love struck doofus. The brunette hates Fabray a lot less than she used to, mostly because they share a common enemy now and because she's been trying to play nice since Puck asked her to, but the blonde is still a stuck up bitch from McKinley. She might not be a cheerleader anymore but that doesn't change who she is and where she comes from. Her parents are still country club churchy assholes which means that Quinn isn't that far behind. Most of all though, Santana knows that her oldest friend is going to get his heart broken one day soon, and she hates the thought of it. That's if he doesn't get his face broken by Mr Fabray first when he finds out Puck's dating his daughter. Girls like Quinn Fabray do not marry boys like Noah Puckerman.

While Puck moons over his girl Santana lets her mind drift, thinks about the homework she needs to do and planning what to make for dinner since it's her night to cook, only coming back to the conversation when she notices Mike and Tina standing.

"We'll see you guys later," Mike says with that smile of his, tipping an imaginary hat.

He grabs Tina's hand and Santana wants to make a joke about how the two of them being together is incest but they look so fucking cute together that she holds it in. Settles for "later Asians" instead.

"Wanna hang out tonight?" Puck asks her as he wipes his face with the back of his hand. "My brother just got back and he gave me some choice weed."

"Can't. Shit ton of homework and I need to make dinner and clean up. Ricky's probably made more of a fucking mess than that kid of his."

"I can't believe your cousin has a kid. He's only like two years older than us. We used to hang out."

"Oh please, think of all the kids you could've had by now."

"I'd really rather not," Puck winces. "I thought they were moving out anyways?"

"One more week."

Santana can't hide the desperation in her voice. It's been two months now since her cousin Ricky's girlfriend Teresa gave birth, two months living with that tiny little demon who cries, shits and eats constantly. She can't wait for them to be gone, not least because she'll be able to move into Ricky's room and stop having to share with Anita. She'll finally have some peace at home. Some place that is just hers.

"Tomorrow night then?" Puck lifts his brow hopefully.

Santana shakes her head. "Work."

"Goddamn Lopez, has anyone told you that your life sucks?"

Puck says it with a smirk, it's something they've said to each other since they were young, but something about today makes it weigh a little heavier on the brunette's shoulders.

"Not today."


Santana has mostly forgotten about the blonde by the time she needs to pick up Anita from dance class again later that week. Well, she hasn't forgotten about her, it's more that whatever magic she worked on Santana when they met seems to have worn off. That pretty girl she made out with at the bowling alley on Friday night didn't hurt either. She's put her momentary Brittany craze down to exhaustion anyway. She's Santana fucking Lopez and she doesn't lose her shit over any girl.

So when she ambles up the steps of the gym and doesn't find her cousin sitting there she doesn't panic, just keeps walking in the direction of the music, stopping outside the door to peak through the window again.

Brittany is dancing, this time to something slower, still wearing barely any clothing. Her body is rolling and bending and moving in ways that Santana didn't even know were possible. It's hypnotic, watching the blonde dance, and it's not until the music stops and Brittany follows that Santana remembers how to move her legs.

When she walks into the room, Brittany has pulled Anita up and they are twirling around together.

"Santana, hey," Brittany greets her breathlessly as soon as she spots the brunette walking over to them. The girl is grinning like she's happy to see her and it makes Santana smile like an idiot because she's not used to anyone being this happy to see her, let alone someone she barely knows.

"Hey Brittany." She turns to her cousin. "Oompa Loompa."

"Mama said you're not allowed to call me that anymore! I'm going to tell her when we get home."

Santana opens her mouth to argue back but Brittany speaks first.

"It's not nice to call your sister names," she admonishes the brunette lightly, smiling down at Anita.

"She's not my sister," the little girl counters, crossing her arms defiantly. "She's my cousin but she lives with us because–"

Santana moves to stand behind Anita quickly, holding her by the shoulders and applying just a bit too much pressure, enough to get the girl to shut up. She doesn't need Brittany to know anything about her family because if she does she'll stop looking at her the way she does now and start looking at her the way everyone else does. Like a waste of space.

"I think that's enough from you," she says lightly, even though her heart is in her throat and Brittany is looking at her curiously. She can tell that the blonde wants to know more but Santana's not going to be giving the Lopez family history today. A girl like Brittany doesn't need to know that stuff.

"So is that where you work or something?" Brittany asks, pointing to the embroidered logo on her shirt.

She'd crashed at Puck's last night and had been running late for work again this morning, ducking home quickly to get changed and in her rush had forgotten to bring a shirt to change into afterwards.

"Yup. I live to serve overpriced food and drinks to privileged white people. It's my calling."

Brittany giggles and Santana feels outrageously proud of the fact that she just did that. She just made Brittany laugh.

"Sounds like a very noble cause."

"What can I say, I'm a real humanitarian."

The two share a smile. It's easy, talking to Brittany. The girl doesn't make her feel judged or out of place or just plain wrong for existing. Santana's still not sure if the blonde is interested in her or just friendly, but she likes being around her and doesn't want to not be just yet.

Unfortunately her little shit of a cousin has other ideas.

"Come on 'Tana," Anita says as she pulls on her arm.

Santana rolls her eyes and smirks at Brittany. "Right, the sea monkeys."

Brittany laughs and the three of them say their goodbyes, but this time Brittany winks at her. It's silly and normally Santana would find it kind of wanky and lame, but a little thrill shoots up her spine when the blonde does it. This girl is like no one she's ever met before and for one of the very few times in her life, Santana finds herself being excited about something.


The next time she sees Brittany it's just a few days later and so completely unexpected and throws her so much that Santana almost wants to run away and hide. But she can't do that because Puck will wonder why she's lost her mind and ask questions. Plus, running away is for little bitches.

Her and Puck are sitting on the stoop outside his apartment building, the same one she grew up in, just down the hall from him. She should hate it here and she kind of does, but it's also home in a really fucked up way. The only home she's ever really known, so she doesn't mind hanging out here with Puck. Sometimes she can pretend that they are still kids and nothing in the world can touch them, although now they pretty much just sit there and talk shit while Puck gets high and sometimes Santana does too. Not tonight, thankfully.

When she sees Brittany walking towards them, long blonde hair falling over her shoulders and a slightly confused smile on her face, Santana feels her whole body tense. Brittany being here doesn't feel right. Santana wonders what she's even doing here. It's after 9pm and dark and Brittany really shouldn't be walking around this neighbourhood alone.

"Santana?" the blonde asks, coming to stand in front of them.

She's got that excited smile on her face again now and Santana's stomach does this annoying little flip thing when she thinks that maybe that smile is for her.

The brunette sees Puck's head swing around and fuck, she didn't want them to meet like this. She didn't want them to meet at all, but especially not when Puck is high and likely to say something stupid and embarrass her. Though really, he's likely to do that completely sober.

"Hey Brittany," she says as she stands, wiping the dirt from the stoop off her hands and then slipping them into her jeans. It's a mild night and she's only wearing a t-shirt, though she could really do with a jacket now.

"Briiiittanyyyy," Puck sounds out slowly and Santana winces. "Brittany...is hot."

The blonde blushes instantly, a nervous smile gracing her lips. A flash of jealousy flares in Santana when she watches the interaction and at the thought that maybe Brittany is attracted to Puck. Santana doesn't understand it, but she's been told that girls think Puck is hot. Kurt thinks so too, not that he's ever admitted it but Santana can tell. Quinn Fabray is just another in a long line of girls that she's seen draped off of her best friend. She really hopes Brittany doesn't like him.

Santana kicks Puck a little too hard in the side then looks apologetically at the blonde.

"This is Puck and he's inappropriate. Ignore everything he ever says. Ever."

Santana knows Puck well enough that she doesn't even need to look at him to know that he's going to argue back, so she kicks him again to shut him up. It works, and she hears him swear under his breath while she watches Brittany's smile relax.

"What are you doing around here?" the brunette asks, her eyes quickly roaming over the girl in front of her. It's hard not to stare when Brittany is dressed in black leggings that cling to her impossibly long legs and a sweater that somehow seems to be simultaneously loose and tight. Tight in all the right places at least. But even with the lustful thoughts clouding her brain, Santana knows that Brittany shouldn't be in this neighbourhood alone at night, let alone wearing that.

Brittany frowns. "I can't find my car. I parked it near the gym but I was in a rush and didn't take notice of where and I got carried away dancing and didn't realise it was dark out. Now I can't remember where I parked it and I started walking and I think I'm lost."

"It's probably been jacked," Puck says from below them, and Santana kicks him again when she sees the panic flash across the blonde's face, even though that had been her first thought too. If Brittany goes to McKinley then her family has money and she no doubt drives a nice car and they are like a magnet around here. Hell, Puck has stolen cars from these streets before and if he hadn't been with her the whole night she would have suspected him.

"I'll help you find it," Santana offers, feeling like a hero when Brittany smiles at her with gratitude and relief, even though she really hasn't done anything yet.

She turns to Puck. "Can I borrow your hoodie? I'll bring it to school tomorrow."

It's gotten too cool for just her t-shirt, especially if she's going to be traipsing around the streets looking for the car. She really hopes it hasn't been stolen.

Puck nods easily and slips it off a little clumsily, handing it over with a mocking, "anything for you princess."

The brunette just rolls her eyes and slips on the jacket, used to his teasing. "I'll see you tomorrow. Tell your mum I'll come by on Thursday."

Puck's mum has been the closest thing Santana has had to a mum in years so she usually has dinner over there at least one night a week. She knows the woman is busy working hard and taking care of her family and the fact that she even gives a shit about Santana means a lot to her. Plus, she's the only parent of anyone Santana knows who doesn't think she's a bad influence. Mostly because Puck is worse and his mum knows it.

Puck nods and then turns his attention to Brittany, who is in turn watching their interaction with interest.

"See you round Brittany. I hope your car is still in one piece."

Santana kicks him again for good measure, turns back to the blonde. "Ignore him."

Brittany nods her head and looks like she's trying very hard not to say something, and Santana supposes that it's her good breeding that demands that she reciprocate Puck's goodbye. The brunette is glad that she doesn't, and she steps off the stoop and onto the sidewalk next to the girl.

"What, no goodbye kiss?" Puck teases, and normally Santana would go back up there and slap him for being such a dick, but the brunette doesn't want Brittany to see that, so she just shakes her head and begins walking with her.

"I'm sorry about Puck," she offers as they start walking back to the gym. She realises that she's just apologised to the blonde and it's strange that it comes so easily because Santana Lopez doesn't apologise to anyone. Even when she knows she's at fault. But there's something about this girl that makes her stupid.

"I'm sure your car is fine," she tries to reassure her when Brittany doesn't say anything.

Brittany nods, worries her bottom lip between her teeth. "Is Puck your boyfriend?"

Santana almost chokes on the laugh that erupts from her chest. With her and Puck growing up in each other's pockets it's not the first time someone has asked her that, but it always seems so preposterous to her. He's like her brother, and she tells Brittany as much.

"Oh okay," the blonde mutters sheepishly, and Santana can't help but feel like she's embarrassed the girl or something. She wants to make it better so she just keeps talking.

"We've been friends since we were kids," she continues, not sure where she's going with it but her mouth just seems to be running. "We live near each other."

"Do you live around here?"

Santana watches Brittany glance around the streets and notices the way her hand is holding tightly to the bag slung from her shoulder and even though the brunette knows this part of Lima Heights is bad news she can't help but get her back up at this outsider judging this place. Her place. Feels like she's being judged too and she fucking hates it. This is why she doesn't like Brittany being here.

"Yup," is all she offers in response.

There's an edge in her voice, but Brittany doesn't seem to notice it. She doesn't tell Brittany that her aunt's tiny house not far from here is barely bigger than the apartment she grew up in and filled with more people so maybe it's worse. Although she doesn't have to hide under her bed or hear things through the walls anymore.

"I like the buildings around here," the blonde says casually but sincerely, surprising Santana and making her think that maybe Brittany wasn't actually judging the place at all. "I think that's how I got lost, I was too busy looking at the buildings."

Santana can't help but stare at Brittany a little dumbfounded. She just can't work this girl out.

"I play this game where I like to make up stories about the people who live in the buildings," the blonde continues. "Apartment buildings are better because there are more people so it's more interesting."

Santana's first thought is that someone like Brittany who lives in the world that she does can't possibly imagine the shitty lives of the people in these buildings. But the thought that follows is that here is this beautiful and talented girl walking through her scary neighbourhood and not judging Santana for belonging there. She has no idea what goes on in this girl's head but all she knows is that she likes it.

"You probably think it's stupid," Brittany mutters, shaking her head like she's silently berating herself.

And if it were anyone else Santana would think it was stupid. If Tina or Mercedes or Kurt ever said anything like that she would never let them forget it and probably use it to try to make them cry. But with Brittany, the girl who twirls and loves sea monkeys and isn't afraid of shadows because she probably doesn't know what bad things hide in them, it kind of makes perfect sense.

"I don't think it's stupid."

She says it with all the sincerity she can muster and watches until Brittany looks back at her, then gives the blonde her most reassuring smile.

"Thanks," Brittany says shyly and bumps her hip into Santana's with a giggle. It's so childish and silly but Santana can't help but giggle too. She can't remember the last time she giggled. This whole thing makes Santana feel like everything is jumbled and mixed up and upside down. She's feeling things she never feels and it's throwing her off balance.

"You know I was kind of scared of you when I first met you, when you stormed into the studio looking like you were going to kill someone. But you're really not scary at all."

Santana scoffs, puffs her chest out. "I'm hella scary, I'll have you know."

Brittany interjects with a soft laugh, like Santana being scary is the silliest idea in the world, then does something that throws Santana off completely. The brunette has her hands in her pockets, but Brittany casually hooks her arm around Santana's elbow and walks just a little bit closer, close enough for Santana to feel the warmth of her body.

The air leaves Santana's lungs and she reflexively glances over at the blonde, who just has that ridiculously happy smile on her face that she always does. It feels weird because Santana doesn't really touch people and doesn't like being touched unless there's some promise of an orgasm. She doesn't hold hands or hug or any of that bullshit. This thing Brittany is doing feels altogether unsettling, but not in a bad way.

Especially when Brittany tightens her arm and pulls her a little closer.

"You're not scary at all."

They find Brittany's car parked a couple streets away from the gym, not having to walk all that far at all, and by the time they find it Santana's heart has calmed a little and she's almost used to having Brittany's arm looped around hers and her body so close. She wishes they could walk further and she could hear more of the stories Brittany is telling her about dancing and unicorns and her cat, things she never gave a shit about before but suddenly finds herself desperately interested in, and she misses the warmth of her as soon as the blonde sidles up to the car.

The whole shiny thing is in one piece, and Santana thanks whatever is up in the sky that this didn't turn out badly. It's exactly the type of car Santana had guessed Brittany would drive, exactly like all the others in the McKinley parking lot. She really is lucky nothing happened to it, and that altogether unfamiliar need to protect this girl flares again.

"You know, you should be more careful when you're around here, especially at night. I don't know if Mike warned you or not but this part of town is kinda sketchy."

Brittany glances around them with wide eyes before shrugging. "I think it's nice."

"We walked past at least four hookers."

"Really? I was wondering what they were all dressed up for."

Santana squints as her jaw drops open because seriously, how does Brittany think that this neighbourhood is nice and not know how to spot a hooker? These are things Santana knew by the time she started school. Brittany is like an alien or an escapee from a cartoon or something.

"Where did you come from?"

Her question is filled with such disbelief that it's borderline insulting, but the blonde doesn't seem to notice or care if she does.

"Columbus," she answers without a beat.

Santana blinks at her, not sure what to say. This girl is like no one she has ever met before. She's not stupid, definitely a little naive and sheltered, but she just sees the world in a completely different way to most people Santana knows. The opposite of how Santana sees the world and it's cute and all but Brittany really needs to get that this neighbourhood is bad news.

"Okay, well just trust me on this. Don't stay out here at night and be careful."

"It doesn't seem so scary."

Santana scoffs, buries her hands in the pocket of Puck's hoddie again as they tighten into fists, the familiar frustration she feels with most people starting to creep in but she keeps her voice light. Why won't this girl just listen to her? "Trust me, it is."

"But you hang around here."

"That's different," the brunette sighs, trying to control her anger which normally would have resulted in her yelling by now. "I grew up around here and what happened in my house was probably worse than out here anyways. This is the bad part of town Brittany. There's some fucked up shit so you have to be careful."

Santana doesn't even realise what she's revealed until it's too late because she just wanted this girl to understand and not get hurt but now Brittany is looking at her like she's some kind of wounded puppy. Santana hates that look. It's how people looked at her when her mother left and it reminds her of everything shit in her life and she feels her anger swelling and needs to calm down. She doesn't want to be mad at Brittany.

"Chang is a dick for not warning you," she adds a little too harshly, desperate to take the attention off herself and direct her anger at someone else.

Brittany frowns, and Santana knows she should feel bad and that she's acting like a freak with this girl she barely knows but she's too busy trying not to yell or think about her mum and her dad and their shitty little apartment or that time when she was fifteen and those guys hassled her and had her pushed against that wall until Puck came around the corner and scared them off.

"Mike is nice."

Brittany says it in such a small voice and looks so awkward that it finally gets to Santana and she feels her anger start to dissolve.

The brunette feels her fists loosen and her shoulders relax and shuffles a bit closer, resting against the car alongside Brittany. She doesn't know what to say to make it better so she bumps her hip into Brittany's lightly just like the blonde did as they walked. She holds her breath, and after a tense moment of wondering if she's fucked this up completely, a small smile returns to Brittany's face.

"Thanks for helping me find my car. I'll try not to lose it next time."

Santana can't help but return the blonde's smile, thankful that things seem to be okay between them again and that the direction of the conversation has changed.

"No worries. It gave me something to do other than listen to Puck talk nonsense about his girlfriend. You're much more interesting."

The brunette feels a blush creep into her cheeks and stares at the ground because she can feel Brittany's eyes on her and is far too embarrassed to look back at the girl. This is not her. Santana Lopez doesn't moon over some girl she doesn't even know. Her stomach isn't supposed to flip when Brittany smiles at her. She's not supposed to lose her train of thought mid-sentence because Brittany's eyes catch the light and are the prettiest colour Santana has ever seen.

"Thanks," the blonde replies and Santana can just tell that the girl is smiling. "Well I better get going, I'm sure my parents are wondering where I am."

Santana feels a painful pull in her stomach because she knows that there's no one of this earth right now who is wondering where she is and if she's safe.

Brittany opens the driver's side door that she was leaning against and throws her bag into the back seat. "You want me to drive you home? I don't mind giving you a lift."

Santana shakes her head and takes a step back from the car. "No, it's cool."

She's not going home yet anyway because these days she avoids being there as much as possible. Anita is always wanting to play with her and the baby is always screaming and her aunt is always asking her to do something. It's just easier to not go home until she has to, but even if she was going home right now she doesn't want Brittany to know where she lives. It's bad enough that she's in this neighbourhood, seeing Santana's world, but the blonde seeing the place she reluctantly calls home would just be revealing too much of her life. Though it would be nice to be in a confined space with Brittany.

"But you just said that it's dangerous around here."

"Dangerous for you, I'm scary remember."

That's mostly true. It's late and girls her age should not be walking around here at night, but Santana knows these streets and the people in them like the back of her hand. Puck and her grew up on these streets, and now that Puck is old enough and makes enough trouble to be feared, no one around here will mess with his best friend.

Santana does that thing that's halfway between a smile and a smirk that she knows girls like and it makes Brittany smile again which is rapidly becoming her favourite thing in the world. That smile could cure cancer it's so fucking perfect.

"Okay well, if you're sure?"

Santana nods. "It's not too far for me to walk."

"I guess I'll see you around then."

There's a hopeful lilt in Brittany's voice and Santana's not sure if this girl is gay or straight or what but it's pretty clear that the blonde likes being around her and that's enough for Santana for now.

"Yeah," she nods.

Brittany smiles again and settles into her car and waves at Santana in a way that the brunette would describe as adorable if she ever used that word. She waves back and watches as the blonde drives off and feels herself flooded with relief and excitement. She can't wait until she sees Brittany again.

She watches until the brake lights from Brittany's car disappear, then she turns and starts heading in the direction of her favourite 24 hour diner where she'll probably just sit and hang out until midnight, which is usually when it's safe to go home because everyone will be asleep. Mercedes' dad owns it which is kind of awesome because Mercedes has to work there a lot and gives them free shit or more than they pay for. It also means that they know Santana and she doesn't get hassled for just sitting there only ordering coffee for a couple of hours late at night. She pulls her iPod out of her back pocket and slips the earphones into her ears. Puck gave it to her for her last birthday and she's pretty sure he stole it and knows she should feel bad for the kid he stole it from but she doesn't.

She thinks of the way Brittany smiled at her and her stomach does that annoying flipping thing again which is actually not that annoying anymore. It feels nice.


If she was being objective about it, Santana would say that her school counsellor Miss Pillsbury is attractive. She's got big doe eyes and a nice body and she likes the colour of her hair. The problem is that Pillsbury is super fucking weird. She has all these OCD hang-ups and clearly has a problem with sex because the sex ed. talks the school makes her give are super awkward and ridiculous. At first Santana just thought it was hilarious and made fun of her like everyone else at the school, but now that's she spent more time with her and gotten to know her she finds the woman and all her weirdness kind of endearing. That being said, sometimes when she's annoyed she'll still knock something out of place in Pillsbury's office just to watch her freak out about it. She's also noticed the way the redhead looks at Schuester, Santana's biology teacher, and it's kind of pathetic and sad. They so obviously love each other but Schuester is married to some troll he went to high school with and he's too much of a good guy to do anything about it. Santana wishes he would so that he and Pillsbury didn't have to distract themselves with trying to fix her.

"So Santana, did you get a chance to read through those college brochures I gave you?"

Miss Pillsbury's wide eyes are filled with hope as she awaits Santana's answer.

"I'm working my way through them. Certainly gives me something to think about."

A delighted smile breaks across the older woman's face.

Those brochures are still lying on the floor of Santana's room where she dumped them the day Pillsbury gave them to her and she hasn't touched them and she probably never will. But she's been dealing with the redhead long enough to know how to answer her questions and how to avoid others.

Ever since she aced his end of year exam in freshman year, Mr Schuester has made it his personal mission to harrass Santana about her potential. Then he got Pillsbury on her case about it and now the two of them make her school life hell, trying to sign her up for clubs and extracurriculars and organising extra homework. And now that her senior year has started they've both upped their game, talking endlessly about college and scholarships and asking too many questions about Santana's future. Like she has one. Make no mistake, Santana knows she's smart, smarter than most of the fuckers at this school if not all of them. Nobody would ever guess and she'd never tell anyone about it, but her GPA is perfect and her SAT scores were close to it and she barely even tried. Everyone assumes that Pillsbury and Schuester are just hassling her because she got into trouble again but it's the opposite. She could get into college and kick everyone's ass, but people in the Lopez family don't go to college, and that's not because they're all stupid. It's because they're fucking poor, like poverty line poor. It's because Santana knows she came from trash and that she's trash too. It's because she still has that juvenile record from when her and Puck kept getting into trouble with the cops a few years back. It's because this is her life and Santana knows her place in the world and it's right here in Lima Heights with all the other losers.

"Have you thought anymore about what you'd like to study?"

Santana shrugs, "Not sure yet."

That's a lie. Santana knows what she would want to do if she could, and as Pillsbury starts blabbering on about how it's perfectly okay to go into college not knowing what you want to study, the brunette lets herself indulge in her dreams for a very rare moment. She wants to be a doctor, ever since she was four she's wanted to be a doctor. And not in the way that kids want to be fireman and doctors and pirates when they're young. She wanted to help her dad when he got sick, but she couldn't, so maybe she could help someone else's dad so that they don't have to go through what she did.

It's a dream she rarely lets herself think about because she knows what will inevitably follow is disappointment and pain. She'll never go to college and she'll never become a doctor and little kid's parents will die and there is nothing she can do about any of it.


"Heads up Lopez, Berry and Hudson are in your section."

Kurt tips his head in their direction but Santana doesn't look over just yet. She feels her stomach knot and winces because the last thing she needs tonight is the SheBeast and Frankenteen and she definitely doesn't need them sitting in her section but of course they are because Rachel Berry loves to torture her.

"Fuck me," Santana groans and drops her head back, wishing for her shift to be over. She still has hours left.

"No thanks." Kurt smirks and the brunette grimaces.

She finally glances over and sees Berry's enormous nose and Hudson's huge head but they're not alone. Trouty mouth Sam Evans is with them too, like they're having a convention for enlarged body parts. Santana raises an eyebrow because the three of them look kind of dressed up and it almost looks like Berry is on a date with both of them. Kinky.

"Just try and keep your mouth shut this time Santana," Kurt warns her. "Mr Berry will fire you if you call his daughter Jew Nose again."

"It was an observation."

Kurt raises an eyebrow.

"I'll be nice."

"It's for your own good," she hears Kurt say over her shoulder as she makes her way over to the table.

Santana braces herself as she approaches and as she catches Berry's eye she watches the girl's smile turn into a scowl. She can't believe that she was ever best friends with this girl. She keeps repeating don't say anything offensive don't say anything offensive in her mind but seriously, Berry has a fucking bow in her hair and not saying anything offensive might be impossible tonight.

"Santana, nice of you to finally come over. We've been waiting for you to take our drink orders for four minutes."

The urge to roll her eyes or slap Berry's face or say go fuck yourself is unbelievably powerful, but Santana keeps a tight smile on her face and repeats her mantra in her head, don't say anything offensive don't say anything offensive.

"Rachel, Finn, Sam," the brunette looks at each of them in turn. "What a lovely threesome you make tonight."

She grins sweetly and knows she can get away with it, despite the scowl on Berry's disproportionate face.

"We're actually expecting Sam's date any minute now," Berry explains smugly.

"Well, he's a lucky guy."

"It's a girl," Sam says defensively, looking up at her from underneath his ridiculous mop of shaggy blonde hair. Boy needs a haircut.

"Not everyone's a fucking homo like you Lopez," Finn sneers and Santana feels her body tense.

It's nothing unusual but it still stings, and she hates that she can't say anything back because Kurt is right, Mr Berry will totally fire her ass and she can't let that happen because she needs the money. The restaurant is in the nice and leafy part of Lima and he might be a Jew, but Mr Berry pays well. She does takes some small amount of satisfaction, however, from knowing that Finn wouldn't be saying anything like that if Puck was here because the last time he did Puck smashed his face in. So she consoles herself with the knowledge that Finn Hudson is a little bitch.

"Right. My mistake. Drinks?"

She takes their order and is about to head back to fill it when she sees Berry's eyes and smile widen and hears a familiar voice to her right. In a moment that feels all too surreal, Brittany is standing there in a simple but beautiful white dress saying hello to everyone and apologising for being late.

And that's when it hits Santana - Brittany is the fourth person on this ridiculous double date. Brittany is here with Sam. Santana just wants to go outside and scream fuck this into the sky because seriously, of all the people in this world, Brittany is friends with Berry and going on dates with Sam. She wonders what that says about the blonde.


The brunette smiles tightly when Brittany calls her name and she watches Berry's eyes narrow. Finn just looks lost like always, and Sam has this doofus smile on his face now that Brittany is here.

This isn't going to end well.

"Hey Brittany."

The blonde is smiling at her in that way that she always does, and despite feeling Berry's eyes on her, Santana returns the smile. She's happy to see Brittany regardless of the situation, especially this version of Brittany, all done up with her hair falling in loose curls and a pretty dress. Santana can't help feeling a tug low in her belly. Brittany looks beautiful.

"You work here," the blonde says as if she's just realised it. "I knew the name of this place sounded familiar."

"You two know each other?" Berry asks, glancing between the two of them.

Santana's first instinct is to play it down, to act like they don't really know each other and Brittany hasn't met Puck and her cousin and been in her neighbourhood and seen Santana spaz out, but Brittany doesn't seem to have the same idea.

"Yeah, we met a couple of weeks ago at the dance studio. And Santana helped me find my car in Lima Heights on Tuesday night when I forgot where I parked it."

Santana winces and hears the dramatic intake of air from Berry. Everything that girl does is dramatic. She wants to tell Brittany to shut up because she's only making things worse for both of them.

"Brittany, what were you doing in Lima Heights?" Finn drawls out as if Brittany had said she was in Iraq or something, and Santana just has this urge to punch him in the face.

"I dance in a gym over there," Brittany answers like it's no big deal. "How do you all know each other?"

Santana scoffs because that question has a really complicated answer that she's sure none of them want to get into right now. They'd need a pen and paper to explain that tangled mess – love triangles, broken friendships, heartbreak, restraining orders. A history none of them want to rehash.

"You shouldn't be in Lima Heights," Berry warns the blonde, ignoring her question and looking pointedly at Santana, but the brunette just wants to get out of there.

"I'll be back with your drinks."

She's halfway turned around when she hears Berry call out.


Slowly she swivels back around with a forced smile. "Yeah?"

"Take Brittany's drink order."

And it's not the first time she's waited on someone she knows, hell, she's waited on her friends and family and teachers before, but there's something about standing there being told to serve Brittany while Rachel watches with a smug, entitled expression on her face, while the two stupid boys look on with the same expression, that makes Santana feel like shit. Like she's every bit the piece of trash people say she is. It makes her angry, and her grip on her pad and pen tightens.

Brittany must finally feel the weird tension because she glances around before politely asking for some water. Santana just nods, keeping her eyes on her order pad and then walks back to the counter.


When she has a quiet moment, which is often tonight because the restaurant isn't all that busy, Santana keeps glancing over at Berry's table and watching the foursome. They look like they're having a great time and everyone is laughing and Santana assumes they're not laughing at Berry unless it's at her face. She hates to admit it, but Brittany looks like she's having fun too, and Santana has noticed Sam staring at the blonde's boobs one too many times and feels like pouring a jug of water in his lap. Although really, if she were in his position she'd probably be doing the same thing. The rest of her night has gone as well as it started, the tension still thick every time Santana returns to the table. They're just finishing dessert so the brunette hopes that they'll be leaving soon, then she can go home and pass out and forget this shitty night even happened.

"How's it going with Berry and the homophobe?" Kurt asks as he leans against the counter next to her. He's had his own run-ins with Finn and hates him as much as Santana hates Berry.

The brunette groans. "Same shit as usual. They're better than me and being gay is bad. I really can't wait until Rachel finds out that her dad is a flaming homo."

"I would like to be there for that," Kurt laughs. "Finn is worse though. I can't believe Quinn ever dated that asshole."

"I can," Santana scoffs. "She used to be just as bad as Berry. Those two running the Cheerios and ruling McKinley like mini-dictators. She's not much better now."

Santana knows that's a lie, Quinn is a lot better now than Berry, but she's mad and she's not sparing anyone.

"Yes she is," Kurt knocks her shoulder lightly in admonishment. "Maybe that blonde girl is Quinn's replacement," he says of Brittany.

Santana watches everyone at the table erupt with laughter again and really hopes that's not true.


Much to Santana's annoyance, SheBeast and her table decide they want coffee after their dessert, so she's not rid of them yet. Brittany has tried to catch her eye a couple of times but the brunette avoids looking at her as much as possible. She deals with her problems by avoiding them and right now Brittany is a problem.

She's on her way back to their table with their coffees when she hears Puck's name several times from both Berry and Hudson, and she knows she shouldn't say anything, she knows she should let it go, but it's Puck and they are assholes and she can't just let it go.

She holds her tongue as she places their coffees on the table but when Brittany is the only one to say thank you or acknowledge her at all it flares Santana's anger and now she really can't help herself.

"What are you saying about Puck?"

All four of them look surprised, and Santana realises that she's just butted into their conversation and probably asked her question quite harshly. Berry is certainly looking like her enormous nose is out of joint.

"Well, not that it's any of your business, but we were talking about people in Lima that Brittany should avoid."

Santana briefly glances at the blonde, finds her staring down at the table looking uncomfortable. Knows that whatever she could have had with Brittany is fucked now but really, if she's friends with Berry then nothing could have ever come from it anyway, not even friendship.

"And Puck is one of them?"

"One of them," Berry says pointedly, and Santana can feel her fists tightening.

"And why exactly is Puck someone to avoid?"

"The dude is a criminal," Finn drawls, and in her mind Santana can still see Finn's bloodied face from when Puck messed him up and all she wants right now is to see that happen again.

"He's going to end up behind bars," Sam pipes up.

"He's lucky he hasn't already," Finn mutters like he's part of a chorus.

"Santana, let's not pretend that there isn't a certain...undesirable element here in Lima."

Rachel smirks at her and Santana really just wants to break that huge nose.

"And then there are just people who are worthless," Finn adds, always playing backup to Berry and smirking at Santana like he's better than her.

Santana glares at him and his face is just so stupid and she knows she shouldn't provoke him but she can't help herself.

"Quinn doesn't seem to think Puck is so worthless. In fact Finn, didn't she totally break your heart and dump your ass for him?"

The smile drops right off of Finn's face and Santana feels a momentary swelling of satisfaction in her chest, but it deflates rather quickly because she knows something bad is coming when his jaw stiffens and he hisses, "You should mind your own business dyke."

There's an audible collective gasp from around the table and Santana thinks maybe she's part of it too because all the air leaves her body in a split second. It's a name she's been called before and she knows that she shouldn't retaliate but she's sick of being fucked over by these assholes and can't control her anger even if she wanted to.

"What did you just call me, Lurch? Why don't you have another slice of cake, doughboy."

She practically snarls at him but Finn doesn't back down.

"You heard me. You don't belong here. You or your girlfriend Kurt."

Santana feels her entire body tense and she's one second away from jumping over the table and slapping Hudson so hard that her hand is imprinted in his cheek for years.

Even Rachel seems to think this has gotten out of hand, because she touches Finn's forearm and says firmly, "Finn, that's enough."

But he just shakes his head. "No, I'm sick of her always giving us shit and calling us names. Because if my mummy dumped me on my aunt's doorstep like a piece of trash when I was a kid and never looked back, I wouldn't be so hasty to talk shit about other people."

And just like that all the fight leaves Santana's body and she almost doubles over because it feels like she's been punched in the stomach. She can handle people talking shit about the way she looks or for being gay or poor or Hispanic, but not about her parents. A lot of people hate her and she gets into a lot of fights but not many people know about her parents and the people that do never mention it. She can't believe Berry told Finn about her mum.

She glances around and Finn looks a little ashamed, like he's finally realised what he just said. Rachel has an apologetic look on her face and it's the first time Santana has seen anything resembling genuine kindness directed towards her from the girl in years. For the first time during all of this she remembers that Brittany is sitting there watching this whole horrible show, glances over to her and finds the blonde with her head down, like she's trying to pretend she's not even there.

It feels like more of a rejection that it should and it's all too much. Santana can feel a wave of emotion swelling inside her, emotions that she usually keeps locked up tight in some dark corner of her brain that are now threatening to escape. Her eyes flood with tears but she will not cry in front of these assholes. Santana Lopez doesn't let anyone see her cry.

She doesn't know how they got like this. Her and Rachel Berry. How they went from being best friends, holding hands at her father's funeral, to this.

The brunette takes a deep calming breath and tries like hell to keep her voice from breaking, to keep everything from breaking. She will not let them break her.

"Enjoy your coffees. Have a good night."

The table is silent as she walks away with her legs feeling like jelly beneath her. Her heart is racing and she feels like she's not in her body right but she just focuses on moving one foot in front of the other until she's in the little staff break room and she's sure she's alone. That's when the tears finally start to fall.


Santana doesn't see the four of them again that night. She's not even in the staff room for five minutes, just enough time to pull herself together and fix her makeup, but when she comes back out the table is empty and she breathes a sigh of relief.

Kurt knows something happened because Santana's still looking a bit rattled but he also knows her well enough to know that she doesn't want to talk about it.

She gets off work at midnight and texts Puck to ask him if he wants to do something stupid like smash some factory windows because she has all this anger and needs to do something with it. She doesn't tell him that last part though. He texts back to tell her that he's busy with Quinn and Santana almost throws her phone into the sidewalk. She's just so fucking angry. Like every other emotion in her is getting funnelled and transformed into this pulsing ball of hate and rage.

She hates that tonight happened. She hates that Hudson knows about her mum. She hates that Brittany now knows too and saw what happened tonight and she hates that Brittany wouldn't look her in the eye and she hates that she ever thought she could even be friends with someone like her.

Three minutes later Puck texts back asking where she is because he's coming to meet her. Santana reads the message and is almost on the verge of tears again because Puck is the one person in the world who is always there for her.


Two days later Santana tells her cousin very clearly that she is to wait for her just inside the entrance to the gym and not to go and watch Brittany dance. She tells her three times that morning before she goes to work and asks Anita to repeat it back to her.

So when she opens the door and doesn't see her sitting there waiting, Santana grits her teeth and curses in Spanish as she marches up the hall to where she knows they both are. This time she doesn't stop at the door and watch, she doesn't care about how hot Brittany is or how well she dances. She pushes through the door forcefully and keeps her eyes trained to where she knows Anita will be sitting, ignoring everything else in the room. The music is low and quiet so she doesn't need to should very loud, calling out to her cousin in Spanish and telling her to move her ass.

Santana watches until her cousin turns to her so she knows that she is waiting then retreats back down the hall and out the door to wait outside the front entrance. She wants as much space between her and Brittany as possible. A minute later she hears the doors open and swivels around, ready to tell off Anita because she told her three fucking times and the kid doesn't fucking listen.

But when she turns it's not Anita standing behind her, it's Brittany.

"Hey," the blonde offers tentatively, like she's worried Santana is going to slap her greeting away.

She should be. Santana doesn't want to talk to her or look at her and still feels completely humiliated from the other night and Brittany and her friends can go fuck themselves.

"Where's Anita?"

Her voice is cold and severe and Brittany looks a little taken aback.

"She had to go to the bathroom," the blonde explains gently, like she's talking to a child or a deranged old person. "I wanted to talk to you about Friday night."

Santana crosses her arms. "I don't want to talk about it. Just forget it."

That's all Santana wants, is to forget it. That's how she gets by in life, forgetting all the shitty things that happen and pretending they didn't. Evidently, Brittany doesn't feel the same way.

"It's just, I'm not good with confrontation and I felt really bad because Finn was so mean so I just wanted to–"

Santana holds up her hand to stop her talking because she can't listen to this girl apologise and talk about how bad she feels for her, but thankfully Anita chooses this moment to step outside and interrupt them.

Brittany finally shuts her mouth and Santana barely waits for Anita to catch up before she's already walking away. Over her shoulder she hears Anita yell goodbye to Brittany and the blonde say it back.


The next week she promises Anita she'll give her two family sized chocolate bars if she waits where she's supposed to, and this time she does. Santana doesn't see Brittany at all and she's not sure whether that's a good thing or a bad thing.


The next Wednesday Santana has a rare night free from work and study so she's spending it hanging out at Puck's house. Unfortunately when she rocked up Quinn was also there, though the brunette should have been expecting that really. Those two are always together these days and Santana kind of hates that her best friend almost always comes with a plus one now, but she's getting used to it and Quinn isn't nearly as irritating as she used to be when she was on the Cheerios and friends with Berry.

The three of them are in Puck's cramped bedroom watching a lame DVD that Quinn wanted to see and Santana has no interest in so she's reading one of her English novels instead and making snarky comments at the movie every so often. Puck and Quinn are all cuddled up on his bed and Santana is sitting on the floor leaning back against it. This room is so familiar to her that it's like her second bedroom really.

"Hey S, did you ever bang that blonde girl?"

Santana's head whips up from the book and she hears Quinn scoff. "What blonde girl?"

"The hot one who lost her car the other week. Barbie, Bethany...Beyonce?"

Santana quirks an eyebrow. "Beyonce? Seriously?"

Quinn sniggers and Puck just shrugs.

"Brittany," Santana finally answers and it's the first time she's thought about the girl in a few days. Well, that's mostly true. Yesterday she thought she saw someone who looked like Brittany and her heart stopped for a second before she told herself to stop being such a pussy. Other than that she's mostly managed to forget the whole thing ever happened.

"Yeah, what happened with her? She likes you, I can tell."

Santana huffs out a breath because really, it's been a few weeks since that night and Puck was high when he met Brittany so she thought she'd escaped his interrogation about her. Apparently not.

"Nothing happened, I barely know the girl."

"Wait," Quinn says in that pretty voice of hers that Santana will never admit that she kind of loves. "Are you talking about Brittany Pierce, the new girl at McKinley?"

Santana feels her shoulders tense because now with Quinn asking questions it feels like it's becoming a thing and she doesn't want it to be a thing. She doesn't want to talk about it.

She keeps her head down and doesn't answer but Puck does it for her. "You know her?"

"Yeah, she asked me about you actually, Santana."

That piques the brunette's interest and there's an unexpected flutter in her stomach, but she doesn't want to make it obvious so she keeps her head down, knowing that her best friend's innate inability to stay out of her love life will come into play.

"I told you she likes you," Puck adds smugly. He likes to think that he's the best lesbro in the world and Santana rolls her eyes when he acts like this but she also kind of loves it. She loves that her sexuality doesn't affect their friendship at all. Actually, it's probably made their relationship stronger. "What did she say?" Puck continues. "Does she want to get it in with Santana or what?"

The brunette cringes because ew, Puck is crass, but she's also totally hanging on to every word of this conversation.

"Don't be gross," Quinn admonishes him gently. "She just asked me if I was dating a guy with a mohawk named Puck and then asked if I knew you, Santana. When I said I did she asked me what I thought of you –"

"What did you tell her?"

Santana can't help but interrupt, annoyed that her interest in the blonde is still strong, but also because she doesn't like the idea of people talking about her. She really fucking hopes Brittany didn't say anything about what happened at the restaurant the other night.

"I told her that you were an evil robot bitch and that she should stay away from you at all costs. Both of you actually."

"Funny Fabray," Santana says dryly.

"Nice, babe," Puck adds proudly.

Quinn's smirk sobers a little. "I told her that you're secretly lovely but pretend not to be and that you're pretty funny...and smart."

"Wow Fabray, if I'd known you felt that way about me sooner I'd have done something about it."

"You wish," Quinn scoffs.

"All three of us can all do something about it right now if you want," Puck suggests as he wiggles his eyebrows.

Santana reaches her arm back and punches Puck's thigh at the same time as Quinn smacks the back of his head.

"Jesus women! Take a joke."

Santana turns and she and Quinn share a smile and it's one of those increasingly frequent moments where the brunette feels like maybe she and Quinn have actually become friends. The prospect is a world away from what they were this time last year – mortal enemies. Back then Quinn was dating Frankenteen and best friends with Berry and she and Santana couldn't stand each other. Quinn and Berry slushied Santana and Tina once and then the brunette keyed the shit out of Quinn's car. Shit like that happened all the time. But then suddenly it all changed. Quinn threw everything she had away, her quarterback boyfriend, her bitchy best friend and her co-captaincy of the Cheerios, and started dating Puck and hanging around with Santana and the Lima Heights kids. Santana still isn't quite sure why. She asked Quinn about it once but they were at a party and both pretty loaded so she doesn't really remember. Something about Quinn being sick of the bullshit and the pressure. Santana thinks she's stupid to give that all up, to risk fucking up her perfect life. The girl is lucky and she doesn't even realise it. Quinn is still a little too stuck up for Santana's liking and they still clash sometimes but they mostly get along. She'd never admit this to anyone, but before she was all out and proud and shit, Santana used to harbour a secret crush on Quinn Fabray. The girl is pretty.

"She did seem pretty interested in you Santana," Quinn continues once they've settled down.

Santana feels her stomach do that flip thing but it's stupid because nothing is going to happen with Brittany and she needs to remember that.

"Fuck yeah she is," Puck adds. "I told you I know how to pick 'em. I know my lesbians."

Santana wants to hit him again but she knows Quinn has it covered when she hears another smack and Puck curse.

"Isn't she dating Evans?"

Santana doesn't want to seem too interested but she can't help herself.

Quinn scrunches her nose. "I've seen them together at school and people are gossiping about it but they don't seem all that coupley."

The brunette shrugs, like she should even care who the blonde is dating. It's none of her business.

"I think she's going to that party this Saturday," Quinn says suggestively, and even though Santana hadn't yet decided if she was going to go, she decides she won't.


Santana goes to the party. Puck and Quinn talked her in to going but honestly, she didn't take that much convincing. She wanted to get drunk and she didn't want to do it alone but all of her friends were going to the party so she had no choice really.

It's just like every other high school party Santana has ever been to. A lot of drunk or high kids in a warehouse or barn or the house of some kid whose parents have gone away - this time it's the house of some football player from McKinley. The funny thing about this town is that kids from McKinley and Lima Heights tend to avoid each other in almost every way– except when it comes to parties. It's almost an unwritten rule that parties mean that kids from both schools will be there. Santana's not sure why but she wouldn't be surprised if it has something to do with the Lima Heights kids having all the drugs and the McKinley kids having all the money to buy them. Either way, the blending of the different worlds always proves entertaining if nothing else. Santana does like watching a good fistfight, and the hot girls from McKinley provide a nice change of scenery for her.

She's been at the party for a few hours - Puck drove her, Quinn, Mike and Tina – and she's pretty wasted. On the way over they stopped at the liquor store Puck's uncle Johnny owns and picked up a few bottles. Johnny got into some shit with the cops last year for selling booze to underage kids - that moron Tanaka had finally cottoned on - so now they have to get a little creative. Anytime Johnny sees them come into the store he turns around and makes himself busy with something at the counter, while Santana or Puck take what they want from the shelves and leave the money in its place, that way Johnny never actually sells it to them. Tonight Santana had taken some vodka for herself and now the bottle is over half empty and she's feeling pretty fucking buzzed.

She's sitting on a couch in the lounge and at the other end of it Puck and Quinn are making out. Santana is pretty anti-social most of the time anyways and it doesn't get all that much better when she's drinking. She spends most parties sitting in a corner knocking them back and talking shit with the few people on this planet she can stand and then a girl will usually catch her eye and Santana will spend the night trying to get into her pants.

There are a couple girls that she has her eye on tonight. A brunette named Stacey that she'd hooked up with a few weeks ago keeps giving her eyes from across the room as well and Santana decides to give it another half hour to make up her mind. The thing with Lima is - there aren't exactly a whole heap of out and proud ladies running around. Most of the girls Santana hooks up with are just experimenting or confused or trying to piss off/arouse their boyfriends. She knows she's not going to get a girlfriend out of it and she doesn't want one, and she knows that they are using her just as much as she is using them. It's been working out pretty well for her so far.

She glances across the room and sees Kurt dancing like he's at a Kylie Minogue concert and notices Blaine close by, but they're not actually dancing together. The two of them try to keep their gayness on the DL in social situations like this, especially since this is the house of one of Finn's teammates and Karofsky is around too. Santana feels an unexpected sadness weighing on her chest because she knows Kurt just wants to dance with Blaine.


She hears someone call out to her and turns to her left, blinks several times like a moron because she could have sworn Puck and Quinn were dry humping there a minute ago and now Brittany's bright blue eyes are staring back at her.

"Hi," she blurts out surprised and it must've been the right thing to say because the blonde is smiling at her like she did when they first met.

Santana had been trying to avoid that smile most of the night. She'd seen Brittany when the blonde had first shown up, walking in with fucking trouty mouth Evans. Their eyes had met briefly but Santana had looked away, wanting to make it clear that they weren't friends and they were never friends. She'd seen the blonde several times throughout the night, sometimes with Evans or Berry or that four-eyed geek in the wheelchair, but Brittany seemed thoroughly entertained each time and didn't appear fazed by Santana's snubbing at all. In fact, as the night wore on, Santana started to feel like maybe she was the one being snubbed, and the drunker she got the more she disliked that feeling. Though it seems she had been wrong.

"I got sick of waiting for you to come talk to me," Brittany says as she leans in a little closer to be heard, and now that Santana can smell her perfume and feel her breath across her cheek she feels her heart start to thump and instantly feels a lot more drunk than she did a minute ago.

"You want to talk to me?" she manages to stutter out and knows she sounds like an idiot but can't help it.

Brittany giggles and Santana can't stop looking at her lovely pink lips.

"Of course I do. I like you Santana."

The brunette feels those stupid butterflies in her stomach again and mixed with all this alcohol it's not such a great feeling. She glances away and her eyes fall on Berry and find the hobbit staring back at her and Brittany with narrow beady eyes. Clearly she doesn't like it, and it reminds Santana of that horrible fucking night at the restaurant and how Brittany just kept her head down and how fucking mad that made her.

And while a sober Santana might be able to control herself and play nice, a half-cut Santana Lopez can't stop herself from being an ass, and she hasn't forgotten that she wants nothing to do with Brittany...despite what the weird feeling in her stomach might be telling her.

"If you want to talk to someone you should go talk to your asshole boyfriend."

It must take Brittany a second to hear her properly over the music, but as soon as she comprehends what was just said her smile drops.

The blonde just stares at her for a second and then stands up and walks away without a word.

Santana pours herself another drink and decides to go find Stacey.


Two days later, still feeling the lingering and stubborn pain of one of her worst hangovers ever, Santana goes to pick up her cousin and feels inexplicably disappointed when she finds Anita sitting there where she's supposed to. There's an annoying knot in her stomach that's been there ever since she was an ass to Brittany at the party and Santana thought that maybe seeing the blonde would help, but she's not there and the knot won't go away.

She briefly thinks about going into the gym to talk to her but really, what's she going to say.


"Lopez, you wanna go on a little lunchtime field trip?"

Santana lifts her gaze from her book as Puck takes a seat next to her in their English class.

"What did you have in mind Puckerman?"

"Going up to McKinley to see Quinn. Figured you could get your head out of your ass and make nice with the hot blonde."

Santana rolls her eyes. Puck has been busting her ass about Brittany ever since Quinn had told him what happened at the party. Apparently the blondes are friends now and while she thinks that Quinn is definitely an improvement on Berry, it pisses Santana off no end that they talk about her. She doesn't like it one bit. Every day now Puck hassles her about Brittany and it's starting to get really old. The only benefit of the Brittany/Quinn friendship is that Santana can find out more about the blonde. It comes in dribs and drabs and she tries not to seem too interested, but Puck and Quinn can see right through it and drop little tid bits about Brittany here and there. Santana has learned that Brittany's family is rich, like super fucking rich, and her dad is some top business guy who is going to run for the state senate. Santana wondered why they moved to Lima of all places but it makes sense if he's running for this district. Brittany's mum is apparently one of those wealthy women who spends her time raising money for charities and stuff. She also has a younger sister, and according to Quinn Brittany likes all kinds of music and coconut ice cream and gardening and photography and is going to New York to dance next year.

Everything she learns about Brittany's life just reinforces Santana's belief that there is no way her and the blonde can be friends much less anything else. Brittany lives in a completely different world.

But her stomach still has those annoying flutters when she thinks of the blonde. And her heart still quickens whenever her name is mentioned. And that knot has been aching in her gut for almost a week now and maybe making nice with Brittany might fix it.

So that's how she ended up sitting on the hood of Puck's car in the McKinley parking lot while the two of them wait. Santana's not even sure if Brittany will want to talk to her or what she should say if she does and her stomach is a mess of nerves while her head is swirling with insane thoughts.

"Fuck S, you're shaking like a junkie. Chill."

She realises her knee is bobbing up and down furiously and stills it, taking a deep breath and trying to calm herself. Reminds herself that she's Santana Lopez and she doesn't spaz out about anything, let alone a girl.

But it's no use because when she looks up again she sees Quinn and Brittany walking towards them, the latter in a fucking Cheerio's outfit, and the air rushes from her lungs. That skirt is just so short and there is so much leg on display that Santana can't think straight. She's pretty sure her mouth is hanging open like some kind of middle-aged perv.

Puck stands to greet his girl and Santana's not sure what the hell she's supposed to do but Brittany is walking over with a tight nervous smile and is standing in front of her before the brunette even realises it.

The blonde pulls at the bottom of Cheerio's top and is obviously nervous. "Quinn said you wanted to say something to me?"

"She did?" Santana asks, looking over Brittany's shoulder at Quinn who nods her head and mimes apologise which makes Santana want to mime back, go fuck yourself.

Her eyes flick back to Brittany's and the girl just looks so awkward and uncomfortable that Santana can't stand it.

"You're a Cheerio," she states, a little bluntly because she's not sure where to start and the blonde's outfit is completely distracting. She realises it may have sounded a little judgemental.

"That's what you wanted to say to me?"

Santana's not used to such an impatient tone from Brittany and she winces a little, acknowledging that she's not doing this right. She slips off the car and stands, realising a little too late that she's closer to the girl that she thought she'd be and that jacks her nerves up even more.

"No, I mean...I just wanted to say that...I shouldn't have acted like such a shit to you."

The last part is said in a hurried exhale but it's clear from Brittany's nonplussed reaction that she's waiting for more.

Santana sighs. "Not just at the party, but before that...after the restaurant."

She's loathed to even bring it up and all those humiliated and angry feelings swell inside her again but she tries to push them aside.

"So, are we cool?"

Brittany laughs a little, almost with disbelief, and Santana can feel the tension ease just a little now that the blonde is smiling again.

"That's the worst apology in the history of apologies. You didn't even say sorry."

And this is where Santana would usually say go fuck yourself and your fucking apology. But it's almost like she's physically incapable of being that way around Brittany and all she wants to do is make the girl smile. She can feel her cheeks blush and takes a deep breath. If she's going to do this whole apology thing she's going to do it right.

"Brittany Pierce, I'm sorry I was such a dick to you. I hope you can forgive me."

She's only ever said something like this when it's been dripping with sarcasm but for once in her life she's being completely sincere. She feels like a moron but that beautiful smile is back on Brittany's face and it's making Santana feel all flushed and warm so it's totally worth it.



Brittany smiles even wider. "Okay."

Santana exhales a relieved breath and feels that knot in her stomach loosen. She looks over and sees Puck and Quinn sitting on the fence holding hands and laughing and kissing and it's gross because it's Puck, but they also look totally in love and it's not totally disgusting. The brunette finds herself smiling at the sight of them but quickly recovers herself when she remembers that she's not one of those stupid girls who smiles at shit like that.

"I'm not dating Sam."

Santana's eyes flick back to the girl in front of her and find Brittany staring back at her, her gaze unwavering. Like she really wants the brunette to hear her.

"You're not?"

The brunette tries not to sound hopeful but she thinks she does.

Brittany shakes her head with a gentle smile. "I was never dating him. I didn't even know it was a double date that night. Rachel just said a few of us were going to get dinner. I didn't know."

Santana's eyes flick down at the mention of that night.

"I told Rachel I didn't want to be her friend anymore."

"I bet she was happy about that."

Now that the tension has dissolved and they are talking easily again, Santana moves back and sits on the hood of the car, patting the space next to her for Brittany to sit.

"She tried to have me kicked off the Cheerios but Sue wouldn't let her," the blond explains as she gets on the car. "I'm pretty sure she hates Rachel as much as you do."

Santana smirks because no one hates Berry as much as she does but she's very happy that people try.

"So you're a Cheerio huh?"

She grips the end of Brittany's skirt and tugs it lightly, her fingers just barely grazing skin but it's enough to cause a shiver at the base of her spine.

"Am I not cool enough for you now?"

Santana scoffs. "Nobody is cool enough for me."

"My mum really wants me to be a cheerleader and it's fun so I don't mind."

Brittany shrugs like it's no big deal and Santana wants to laugh because she knows that it is a huge deal and most girls and McKinley would kill to be on that squad.

"Well, I'm sure you're not terrible at it."

She knocks her shoulder into Brittany's gently and smirks. The blonde's face lights up and the only thing Santana can think is how much she wants to kiss her. She doesn't just want to be this girl's friend.

"You'll have to come and watch me so you can see how amazing I am."

"Well it'll have to be the next time Lima Heights kicks McKinley's ass. The only reason I go to football games is so I can yell insults at Puck."

"Well, maybe now you have another reason to go."

Brittany flashes that brilliant smile again and Santana thinks that maybe now she has a reason to do a lot of things she normally wouldn't.


The next Sunday Santana tells Anita that it's okay if she wants to wait for her inside with Brittany and the kid shrugs and says maybe. She ends up having to bribe her cousin with an ice cream and knows she's probably being played but it's worth it. It's worth it when she walks into the dance studio and receives that beaming smile from Brittany when the blonde sees her. Again the girl is barely wearing anything and it does all sorts of pleasant things to Santana.

"Santana, hey," the blonde greets her enthusiastically. "You're just in time to see our dance routine."

The brunette arches an eyebrow and looks at her cousin who claps her hands excitedly. She nods and makes her way over to lean against the wall while Brittany and Anita line up in front of her and once the poppy music kicks in they start to move. At first Santana watches Anita because it is pretty entertaining watching an eight year old dance, but her eyes are soon drawn to Brittany. Brittany whose body moves so naturally and fluidly like it was made just for this. Santana is completely captivated and knows it's super lame and wanky but the way Brittany dances makes the brunette feel like anything is possible. It's like magic.

Their short routine finishes and Santana claps, Anita hamming it up and curtseying. As much as the kid pisses her off she's the only family Santana has and she does love the little shit, so seeing Brittany be so nice to her makes her stomach do that flipping thing again. She pushes herself off the wall and makes her way over to them.

"Nice moves Midget. Blondie, you need to work on your technique."

Anita grins smugly and Brittany giggles. "Any other notes for me?"

"Yeah, you should really hit the gym," Santana jokes as she reaches her finger out and pokes at the tight muscles of Brittany's exposed stomach. "You're a bit out of shape."

Brittany laughs and Santana has a stupid grin on her face because she just made her do that.

"I'll work on it. Are you going to that party on Friday night?"

Santana wasn't planning on it. She has to work and by the time she finishes up and gets changed and makes her way to the party it would be like 1am and most of the partygoers would be far too wasted and things would be getting messy. That's not fun if you're the sober one playing catch-up.

"I have to work."

Brittany's smile drops a little and Santana can tell that she's disappointed. Santana can't help but think of what might happen between them if she does.

"I could stop by afterwards," she suggests and when the blonde's smile brightens again Santana knows this party is going to be interesting.


The party is a shit show, bigger and messier than usual, and as she's walking through the house with Kurt trying to find people they know Santana wonders whether a nasty batch of E or weed or something is making its way around because everyone seems more fucked than usual. She just wants to find their friends and start drinking so that she's not the only sober loser at this party.

They pass through the house, Santana on the lookout for a certain blonde, and find most of their friends in the kitchen seated around a table with an unholy amount of empty bottles and red cups littered around it. Quinn is on Puck's lap and the two are making out like animals, Mike is talking animatedly to Blaine and Tina and Mercedes are singing and giggling. Santana shakes her head at her pathetic excuse for friends.

She takes an empty seat next to Mercedes and grabs the bottle of whatever is in front of her – she's not being picky tonight. The amber liquid fills half the red cup and she drops her head back and slams all of it down, wincing at the burn and exhaling forcefully. She's going to need to need a few more of those.

Her friends finally seem to notice that she's there and greet her enthusiastically, asking what took her so long to get there even though they knew she was working. There's a lot of slurring and forgetting of words but they try and catch her up on the party. Apparently Hudson tried to talk to Quinn again which led to a huge blowout between Berry and Hudson. Santana is sorry she missed it. Other than that it was the usual shit. Tina and Mercedes giggle like idiots and Santana knows that they must have smoked some weed because that's how they get when they do. Mike looks high too and Santana wonders if they have any left because that's much easier than smashing a bottle of whiskey. Blaine is already macking on Kurt and Puck and Quinn don't look like they've come up for air.

Santana pulls on the back of Quinn's top to try and get her attention. She has to do it a few times before the blonde un-suctions her mouth from Puck's and turns to look at her.

"Santana, you made it!" Quinn has a dopey smile on her face and Santana can tell that she's drunk. Really drunk.

Puck opens his eyes in the absence of Quinn's lips and greets his friend and Santana nods in reply.

"You seen Brittany?"

Quinn's brow furrows in concentration like Santana's just asked her a complex algebra problem or something.

"Yeah," she answers finally. "She was with Artie."

Santana feels that knot in her stomach again. "That wheelchair kid?"

Quinn nods. "You look pretty."

"Jesus, you must be hammered."

Quinn just shrugs and turns back to Puck and Santana is forced to look away because it's sloppy and disgusting.

She pours herself another drink and decides to go looking for the blonde because her friends are boring and Brittany is hot.

But the girl doesn't seem to be anywhere downstairs and that knot in Santana's gut starts to tighten because that could mean that Brittany is upstairs with someone. Maybe even that wheels kid which is all kinds of wrong. She begins to wish she'd asked Mike if he had any weed left.

It's not quite relief when she finds the blonde in the backyard, because yes she's not upstairs in a bed with anyone, but she is sitting across the lap of that Artie kid with her arms around his neck. They're not kissing but with the way they're sitting and the way his hands are all over her waist and legs it seems like they probably have been or will be soon. She can't believe that some cripple has totally cockblocked her.

And then her stomach drops out of her ass completely when she sees Artie lean over and kiss Brittany, the blonde kissing back with an obvious smile on her face.

Santana takes a deep breath and realises that she has to get a fucking grip and let this Brittany thing go. Sure Brittany has been friendly with her but from what Quinn has told her the girl is like that with everyone and the blonde has given her no reason to think that she even likes girls. It's just not worth her losing her shit over. They can just be friends and the brunette can go back to hooking up with randoms at parties and not feeling bad about it.

She feels like an idiot just standing there watching them and turns, determined to get fucked up and have a good time since she's here anyway.

When she gets back to her friends she finds that everyone has gone except Quinn and Puck, still making out like two twelve year olds who haven't learned to do anything else yet.

"Where the fuck did everyone go?

Quinn pulls back and looks around, like she's just noticed everyone has left.

"They wanted to leave so Kurt dropped them off," Puck explains, sounding remarkably sober. "This party kinda blows."

Santana is about to agree and say that all three of them should leave when she looks up and sees Brittany literally rolling into the room on Artie's lap. She really wants to punch that kid.

"Santana! You came."

"She will now that you're here," Puck quips and Santana punches his shoulder just as Quinn slaps the back of his head.

Brittany's words are slurred and it's pretty obvious that she's wasted, like really wasted, and the brunette narrows her eyes. She's never really seen Brittany drunk before but the girl seems like she's one sip away from a blackout.

"This is...Artie," the blonde explains slowly but Santana ignores him completely.

"Brittany how much have you had to drink?"

The blonde frowns and tries to count on her fingers but it's useless. Santana tries a different approach.

"Hey Wheels, has she taken something?"

Artie laughs and Santana sees him squeeze Brittany's thigh and clearly he doesn't give a shit about whether the girl is too drunk for this. Santana's not sure what Brittany was going to do after the party or if she was going home or what but she does know that the party is over for the blonde. She's has seen too many girls do stupid things at parties that they can't take back, things they wake up regretting, and she doesn't want Brittany to feel that way tomorrow. She knows how that feels and it's fucking horrible.

"Okay," she says as she gets off her chair and bends to be eye level with the blonde. "Brittany, you're coming with me before you do something stupid."

"I like you," the blonde slurs. "Where we going?"

Good question.

Kurt had driven her here and she hadn't really thought out the rest. Figured she'd get a ride home or just stay there until the early morning buses started to run.

"Puck, have you been drinking?"

He pulls his head away from Quinn. "Nope."

Santana looks at him sceptically because it's not like he hasn't lied to her about this before.

"He hasn't," Quinn adds. "He's driving us home."

"He's probably drunk just off of your fumes. How much have you had?"

Santana ignores Quinn's grimace and looks back to Puck.

"I need you to drive Brittany and I home. Like now."


Ten minutes later Santana is sitting in the back of Puck's car with Brittany snuggled into her side. Puck had to practically carry the blonde to the car and she'd started dozing almost as soon as the engine had started. Santana doesn't know how her night turned out this way because it's fucking ridiculous and not the ideal situation in which to have Brittany pressed up against her.

"Yo, where we dropping Blondie?"

Santana sees Puck looking at her in the rear view mirror and realises she doesn't know where Brittany lives. Fuck.

"I don't know her address."

"Well ask her."

She rolls her eyes and tries gently shaking the blonde awake. Brittany opens her eyes reluctantly.

"We need to know your address so we can drop you home."

It takes the blonde a moment to understand her but once she does she shakes her head.

"My parents...will kill me."

Santana rolls her eyes because fucking hell, now she's stuck with trying to find somewhere for her to stay.

"Hey Quinn, can she stay with you?"

She sees Quinn's head bob up and realises that the girl was probably drifting off as well.

"I'm staying at Puck's."

"Well can't you just go to your place instead?"

"I'm sure my dad would love that," Quinn scoffs. "Two drunk high school girls on his doorstep at three am."

Santana sighs in frustration, really not in the mood for Quinn's family bullshit.

"And as much as I'd like to say I had three ladies in my room tonight," Puck adds, "there's not enough room for all of you."

Santana sighs because she knows that means that Brittany has to stay at her place, something she had wanted to avoid at all costs. The thought of Brittany even knowing what her house looks like was bad enough a few weeks ago, but now the blonde is going to have to sleep there. Wake up there.

Thank god Ricky finally moved out and she has her own room.


Puck helps Santana get Brittany out of the car and up to the front door and by then the blonde is awake enough to take the few steps inside to the brunette's room with the assistance of Santana only. Santana shuffles them closer to the bed and gets Brittany to sit down then takes off the blonde's shoes. She very briefly considers whether she should take off Brittany's skirt and top and put her in some sweats or something but that just seems too intimate and also a hassle, so she pushes Brittany back gently and tells her to go to sleep, pulling the covers up around her. She leaves a glass of water next to the bed in case Brittany wakes up.

After she changes and washes her face Santana comes back into her room and finds herself hovering at the edge of her bed. She feels like a bit of a fucking loser but a girl has never actually slept in her bed with her before, not since she was a kid and definitely not in her aunt's house. She doesn't really have girlfriends or even girl friends with sleepovers and everything and on top of that she never invites them over to her aunt's house, so it's never been an issue. She's also worried about her aunt finding out and even though Santana knows the woman works early on Saturday mornings and she probably wouldn't see her until later that day she's still anxious about it. Her aunt would shit a brick and start praying and probably throw them both out of the house. If she can avoid that she could probably bribe Anita into keeping quiet.

So she grabs her pillow and a spare blanket from her closet and makes a bed on the floor. It's not the most comfortable thing but she's fucking tired and knows she'll pass out shortly. It'll do.


The next morning the thing Santana had worried would happen happens, and it's like a scene from a teen drama or something, though amazingly it's not as bad as Santana had imagined it would be.

But it's still pretty bad.

The brunette wakes up first and despite the painful kink in her neck she looks over to check on Brittany who is still out cold. Although the girl must have woken up at some point because her top is on the floor and she's just in her bra. Santana tries not to stare at the flawless skin of Brittany's back, but it's kind of hard not to. She checks the time and it's almost eight and even though she's fucking tired she doesn't want to go back to sleep. Her aunt is already at work so they're in the clear there but she knows her cousin is likely to bound in here at any minute, and she can't really kick Brittany out, so it'll be easier to deal with if Santana isn't half asleep.

She's is in the bathroom for a total of 45 seconds but it's enough for everything to go to shit.

She hears yelling in English and Spanish, mostly in Spanish, and realises that it's her aunt. Fuck. It's then that she vaguely remembers her aunt telling her that she wasn't working until late this Saturday. Fuck.

She races back into her room and finds her aunt standing just inside the doorway looking fucking furious and Brittany is sitting up in the bed with the covers pulled up around her looking scared shitless and like she has no fucking idea what's going on because she really doesn't. Her aunt can't see Santana's makeshift bed on the other side of the room but she can see Brittany in her bed in just her bra and she's assumed the worst. They both look to Santana for answers but before she can speak her aunt grabs her arm and roughly pulls her out of the room and into the lounge. Santana opens her mouth to explain but her aunt whips her hand up and slaps her so fucking hard across the face that it takes a few seconds to start stinging. Then it really fucking hurts but Santana barely flinches because she doesn't let anyone see her in pain. It's not the first time she's been hit and she knows how to take it.

After that the woman really starts ranting in Spanish. Telling her that she is going to hell and how dare Santana bring that filth into her house while Anita sleeps and how she only took her in when her no good mother dumped her here because she promised Santana's dad on his deathbed that she would take care of her. Santana tries to explain but the woman won't shut up and doesn't want to listen and it's no use anyway. It's not just about Brittany being in her bed, it's about Santana being gay and she can't try and explain that away. Her aunt will always hate it. Always hate her for it.

So Santana stands there and takes it, feels the words wash over her and tries not to feel them, tries to count the thumping beats of her heart to distract herself from the tears that are collecting in her eyes. She sees movement in the corner and catches Anita's head poking around the corner, her brow furrowed with concern and fear. Santana fucking hates that her little cousin is seeing and hearing this. She really hopes that Brittany can't understand Spanish.

Finally her aunt runs out of steam, telling her that if she ever does anything like this again she'll kick her out and that the blonde girl better never come back to this house. Then she calls out to Anita, the little girl running into the room, before she marches them both out the door, slamming it behind her.

Santana stands there just trying to breathe for a moment, not trusting her legs to move right now. Her cheek still stings and she's sure there's a red mark across it and it feels like she's been punched in the stomach. She takes a moment to collect herself and then heads back into her room, ready to explain and apologise and hope that Brittany doesn't hate her.

When she comes back into her bedroom she finds Brittany still sitting in the same position, looking more worried than scared now that she's probably put a few things together. The brunette smiles nervously and takes a seat on the side of the bed, suddenly feeling more self conscious than she ever has in her life. Like every insecure thought she's ever had are just piling themselves on top of each other in her stomach. Brittany is here in her shitty little room looking at how crap she looks in the morning on top of what just happened with her aunt. It's too much for Santana's brain to handle.

"I'm sorry about my aunt...if she scared you. I didn't think she'd be home."

Brittany nods. "She seemed really mad."

"Yeah, she thought you and I..."

The brunette glances away, feeling a blush in her cheeks, not sure exactly how to say this even though from what Finn said at the restaurant she's pretty sure Brittany knows she's gay.

"She doesn't agree with my...she thinks being gay is wrong and she thought we...she didn't see that I'd slept on the floor."

She feels like a mumbling idiot who can't put a sentence together but knows Brittany gets the point when the girl nods her understanding.

"I'm really sorry."

She just wants to say I'm sorry I'm sorry I'm sorry over and over again until it somehow starts to feel better because she really doesn't want Brittany involved with any of this and the blonde doesn't deserve it.

"It's okay. I should be apologising to you for taking your bed and upsetting your aunt."

Brittany is practically mumbling and Santana can tell that she's still a little freaked out. The brunette's eyes snap up because she can't imagine why Brittany should be saying sorry. Brittany is perfect and hasn't done anything wrong and because of Santana's shitty life and fucked up family the blonde has just had to witness that.

"No, don't be silly I'm the one who needs to apologise for my family. You didn't deserve my aunt going off on you like that."

Brittany leans forward and reaches her hand out and Santana stiffens because she has no idea what the blonde is doing, but then the hand is cupping her stinging cheek gently, so fucking gently and with so much care. She surprises herself and doesn't flinch away but Brittany is holding her gaze so strongly that she doesn't even want to. Once she gets over the initial shock of Brittany touching her it feels soothing and wonderful and she relaxes into it slightly. No one has touched her with so much care in years.

"You didn't deserve that either."

Brittany's voice is soft but absolutely filled with strength and her words penetrate Santana so completely that she just feels like crumpling into a mess and crying. She feels ashamed that Brittany knows her aunt slapped her and she feels ashamed about this life that she never wanted, that she was never supposed to have. This life of working too hard for something that's never enough. Of always being told that she isn't good enough. She'd taken a lot of beatings after her father died but she was always told one thing – she deserved it. And now here was Brittany, this perfect wonderful thing who should be wanting to run out of this house and never look back, telling her that she didn't deserve it. Looking at her like she matters.

It's almost too much and Santana backs away before she starts crying, standing up and moving to the other side of the bed to clear up her makeshift bed to give herself something to do and time to compose herself.

Brittany senses the mood shift and Santana is thankful when the blonde sits back and starts talking about something else.

"So what exactly happened last night? And why am I in my bra? It's all a bit fuzzy."

Santana turns and finds the blonde rubbing at her face and she doesn't seem all that fazed that she's sitting there in her bra but if she doesn't put something on Santana won't be able to string words together. The brunette goes to her closet and pulls out a fresh t-shirt, throwing it in front of Brittany on the bed.

"Here, you can put that on for a start."

Brittany thanks her with a smile and slips into the shirt and Santana feels a little tug in her stomach at seeing the girl in her clothes. It's hot. She takes a seat on the side of the bed again.

"And why did you sleep on the floor? There's plenty of room in the bed."

Santana feels her cheeks flush a little and can feel the blonde watching her.

"Didn't want to chance waking up with vomit all over me," she jokes, not daring to even come close to telling Brittany the real reason.

The blonde scrunches her nose. "Oh gross, I didn't vomit did I?"

"Nope. You must have had a lot to drink though because you were pretty wasted. Like Puck had to practically carry you out of the party wasted ."

"Oh God," Brittany moans as she hides her face in her hands. "I didn't mean to drink so much I was just bored and feeling uncomfortable and waiting for you to show up and I didn't realise how much I'd had."

Santana's stomach does that flipping thing again when Brittany says she was waiting for her. Then she remembers how she found the blonde.

"You kissed that Artie kid."

Santana keeps her voice as neutral as possible. Brittany's eyes widen and it's clear that she doesn't remember that at all.

"I did?"


Brittany takes a deep breath. "I shouldn't have done that."

Santana shrugs because really, she has nothing to say to that. She wishes Brittany hadn't done it and Wheels is nowhere near good enough for her and someone who is good enough for her would have taken care of her last night, not behaved the way he did.

"Especially since I like someone else."

The words take a second to sink in but once they do Santana feels her heart stop. She tries not to show how disappointed she is and Brittany is just looking at her like she knows a secret that the brunette doesn't. She hopes that it's not one of her friends – Mike or Puck or god forbid, that douche Evans.


Santana doesn't know why she even asks because she doesn't want to hear about the person Brittany likes, but there's also some masochistic part of her that needs to hear it.

Brittany smiles softly, like she's thinking of something lovely, and that knot in Santana's stomach is back.

"Yeah. They're really lovely and smart and very funny."

Santana's smile tightens because Brittany sounds so clearly enamoured with this boy and she really doesn't want to sit here and talk about the blonde's crush.

"And they work hard and help out their family and they really don't realise how great they are."

The brunette forces a smile and tries not to sound insincere. She hates this person. "Well, they sound great."

"They are," Brittany almost whispers and it's like a punch to her stomach.

She doesn't know what to say and she looks down at her fidgeting fingers, just wanting this conversation to end right now so that she doesn't have to think about Brittany with someone else. Santana knows she's probably being a bit obvious but she can't help it and she's getting herself worked up and is suddenly wondering how rude it would be to ask Brittany to leave because she just wants this over.


It's said in a soft breath that sounds all too close and when Santana glances back up Brittany is right beside her, those bright blue eyes shining with something the brunette doesn't recognise because no one has ever looked at her like this. Like she's the only person in the world. Santana feels her breath trap in her lungs.

"I like you, Santana."

And as if it's the simplest thing in the world, Brittany leans forward and places a soft kiss on her lips. It's gentle and wonderful and perfect and it makes every nerve in Santana's body light up but it's over too quickly, the blonde pulling away and opening her eyes to gauge the brunette's reaction.

And Santana doesn't need to be asked twice or give Brittany time to think better of it because she's already turning her body and leaning forward to hold Brittany's jaw with both hands and then pressing their lips together again. She closes her eyes and all she can feel is Brittany all around her, her soft skin and perfect lips and her angelic blonde hair brushing against her hands, and she feels like she's been waiting her whole life for a kiss like this. For Brittany's kiss. Because she doesn't believe in fairytales and love and magic and fate but if she did this kiss would be proof of them. This time there's no pulling back and there's no stopping and Santana feels Brittany's tongue brush against her lips and it sends another spark up her spine as she opens her mouth to let Brittany's tongue claim her. There's a hand at the back of her neck now, holding her close, and another on her hip and she can feel Brittany holding her gently but firmly and she just wants to melt into the blonde.

After a few minutes they break apart from their increasingly feverish kissing, both girls needing to catch their breath. Brittany places a barely there kiss on Santana's still reddened cheek and the brunette closes her eyes as her breath hitches, feeling Brittany's silent wish to take the pain of it away. She feels like kissing Brittany is everything she'll ever need and the blonde is just fucking beaming at her and Santana can't believe this is actually happening.

"So I guess that answers the question of whether you like me back," Brittany jokes and Santana laughs loudly, more than the comment calls for really but she's got so much adrenaline racing through her that she just needs an outlet for all that energy.

She fidgets with the sheets on her bed, feeling shy now that they were actually talking about feelings. She much preferred to show them.

"I had no idea you liked me," she admits softly. Because I'm poor and my family is fucked up and I'm mean and most of the time my friends don't even like me and I have no future, she continues in her head, her insecurities flaring.

But Brittany seems to know exactly how to comfort her, taking her hand and lacing their fingers together. Santana takes back everything she ever said about holding hands being for dicks because with Brittany it's the best fucking thing in the world.

"I've liked you since I met you," Brittany confesses a little cautiously, still looking her in the eye. "But you're kinda hard to get to know."

She squeezes Santana's hand and the brunette smirks. She knows that's an understatement. Bank vaults are easier to get inside than her heart.

"Don't tell Quinn I told you this, but she told me that you might like me. That's why I asked you about the party. I was supposed to be kissing you."

Santana shakes her head because she just knew that Quinn couldn't keep her nosey self and her big mouth out of her business, but she can't really make herself get too mad because Brittany just kissed her - she just kissed Brittany - and Brittany went to the party to kiss her and hearing that sends another flutter to her stomach.

Her eyes flick down to Brittany's lips and her mind blanks out every thought other than how soft those lips are and how much she needs to feel them and she finds herself leaning forward to capture them with her own again. She can feel Brittany smile into the kiss and she's surprised when she feels the blonde pulling her forward with her as she lays back down on the bed but there's no way she's not following. Their kiss never breaks and she settles her body half on top of Brittany's, feeling her lithe body move beneath her, one hand coming up to cup her cheek as she feels the blonde's hands move to her hips and pull her close. Brittany is sucking on her bottom lip and making these amazing sighing noises that hit Santana low in her belly but the brunette knows that it's not going any further than this today. With the way that her entire body is humming right now she doesn't know if she could even handle doing anything more than this. Santana thinks she could just kiss Brittany forever. It would be enough.

They make out like that for a while, both indulging their long held desires until their lips are numb and Santana has a red mark on her neck and both girls are talking and giggling at the way their day started and where they are now.

Santana wouldn't mind if every day ended up like this.



So that's the end of part one...the rest should be written kinda quickly but I'm back at work now so we'll see. Let me know if you want me to post it as I go or just in one hit when it's done. That's if anyone is even reading this :P

Don't be shy in letting me know what you think! I can take it...probably.

peace out