Part one of (I've Got To Admit) It's Getting Better: New Year Trilogy

Spoilers for 3x09 "Extraordinary Merry Christmas"

Summary: She fell asleep to Brittany singing the Beatles "And I Love Her", the words"A love like ours could never die"humming around in her head, soothing her.

Notes: Title from the Beatles "And I Love Her"

This Love of Mine

Brittany comes home from Santa Fe on New Year's Eve.

Because of a delay due to a freak snow storm that caused all planes to be landed across the Midwest until skies were clear, it meant that she'd been gone for a grand total of nine excruciating days. Plus, another six hour delay at the airport, because of some smelly old lady (Brittany's words, not hers), meant there was going to be hardly any time for them to spend some time alone together before the party.

Apparently, because of his new Congressman status, Mr Hummel had some thing to go to for New Year's in Washington and because Kurt and Finn weren't allowed to go, they were allowed a New Year's Eve party instead. Kurt had emailed out fancy invites and, just as Santana was reading hers, she got a text from Brittany saying that she couldn't wait to go. Kurt was totally a better party planner than Rachel. She was so cute, being all excited, that Santana couldn't find it in her to refuse.

Plus, she also said they'd go together and Santana couldn't stop herself from thinking about the last Glee club party and remembering how that went. If there was a hope of one of them being in the other's lap drunkenly smooching, she was definitely down. Hell, she's so hopeless these days that the prospect of sitting holding Brittany's hand all night gets her all excited and hot around the collar.

Anyway, point is, thanks to stupid airline delays and Kurt Hummel, the first night Brittany's home after nine days (that felt like years), they don't get to be alone like Santana had planned. She had to forgo the candles, the brand new purposely-bought-because-they-looked-romantic bed sheets, the bottle of champagne her parents had treated her to for Christmas (They'd handed it to her before dinner, told her she and Brittany deserved it, then made her go wash up; all in all it was a generally strange experience) and the new underwear she'd bought herself (Well, Brittany) for Christmas, and settle for getting ready for the party together instead.

Well, maybe she hadn't forgone the underwear. As she drove herself over to Brittany's, after the text she'd been waiting days for, she discovered that sexy definitely doesn't also mean comfortable.

Still, maybe Brittany would get a chance to enjoy them.

As she pulls into Brittany's street, nervousness settles into her gut. Usually she'd think it weird, but it's been happening a lot more, recently. She'd thought that things wouldn't change – they were practically dating before they were dating – but they have. It's like when they're apart, it feels like forever, like every second apart is unbearable. It makes it so that when they see each other again, it gives her butterflies, the best kind of flutterings in her stomach, that don't stop until Brittany's held some part of her. Sometimes they don't, though. Sometimes, they only get worse.

It's like that now. She clambers out of her car, smooths out her dress and walks to the door. She rings the bell and waits, listens to the happenings inside. She hears the thundering of rushing feet down the stairs, the hushed warning to a sibling that might ruin the moment, the shooing of a parent that might embarrass her and a pause. It almost kills her.

When Brittany opens the door, Santana's breath hitches and she waits as her world rights itself again, gets back on it's axis now that Brittany's close enough to hold.

"Hey," Brittany giggles, looking just as excited and relieved as she does.

Santana steps closer and breathes out. "Hi," she mumbles softly. She's missed how the air buzzes around Brittany, how her world seems suddenly warm after being cold for so many days. Brittany reaches out to steady her as she trips up climbing the step. She wants to say something cheesy about how she always falls for Brittany, but she's more aware that arms are hooked under her shoulders, wrapped around her back and she's flush against Brittany's chest. Her eyes flutter closed at the sudden reminder of the feeling. "Hi," she says again.

Brittany doesn't give her a moment, just looks behind her to see if anyone's coming and chances her luck, pressing their mouths together innocently. She nudges Santana's nose with her own, then presses it against her cheek as they stand in the open doorway, holding each other.

"Hello," Brittany says giggling. She starts to sway giddily and Santana sighs, relishing.

She turns her face to kiss Brittany's cheek. "I missed you," she admits in a whisper. She feels Brittany squeeze her tighter.

"Well guess what?" Brittany says, peppering kisses along her jaw. Santana hums in response. "I missed you more," she says, a pretend whisper, before she kisses Santana's nose, leaving her lips there for a moment. Santana didn't know it was cold until she feels Brittany start to make it warm.

"Highly unlikely," Santana says bringing her hands up Brittany's back to hook over her shoulders and bring her closer. Their faces touch at every protruding feature, foreheads, noses, chins. They stay like that, smiling like goons at each other, until Brittany's dad yells that they're letting in the cold.

/

Santana leans back on her hands, watching Brittany move around the room from the foot of her bed. She smiles every time Brittany looks at her to check she's still there before watching her as she silently goes about her room doing mundane things like unpacking.

She doesn't understand how a person looks so beautiful doing something that's not. It's some kind of paradox, but she doesn't care. She just wants to keep looking. She wasted so much time avoiding looking, so much time pretending, that she wants to soak in it all, even the boring moments.

She thinks of all the texts they've sent each other this week, emails, Facebook messages and Twitter replies. Then there's the phone calls and the Skype chats they had a couple of times, but struggled with thanks to Brittany's sister wanting to know what they were doing. If there's a way of communicating, they found it.

Santana feels like she's learned to appreciate Brittany's presence in even more ways this week. She doesn't understand how Brittany comes up with some of the things she does. Like, how she came up with so many ways to say goodnight to Santana.

On the first night it was a phone call because Santana had said that she'd fly down there herself to make sure Brittany was safe is she didn't call. Brittany had been muffled by her quilt as she whispered how she'd almost not called so Santana would follow her. It had been one in the morning and Santana was still awake and seconds away from booking a flight.

The second night, Christmas Eve, Brittany emailed her the entirety of the Night Before Christmas before ending it with an I love you that Santana didn't even know she needed.

On Christmas day, she text her telling her to look under her bed where she found a rather large, perfectly wrapped present which made her call Brittany to chastise her for not warning her that she needed to leave a present. Brittany just sighed at her hopelessly and told her to open it. When she did, she found one of Brittany's blankets inside and brought it to her nose. She soaked in the smell of her, as Brittany told her that she could pretend it was her wrapped around her when she was cold.

The day after Christmas, they spoke to each other for an hour before bed, but after they'd hung up Brittany sent her a picture. She opened it to find a picture of Brittany wrapped up in her covers, warm comfy flannel pajamas wrapped around her, her blue eyes tired and heavy, an adorable pout on her lips. Underneath was the caption I wish you were here that left Santana talking herself out of just flying down there. To hell with it.

On the twenty-seventh, Brittany called her, three hours after they'd texted each other goodnight and said nothing before softly starting to sing to her. Santana's heart fluttered with the idea that Brittany could just tell she couldn't sleep and brought the covers over her head. She fell asleep to Brittany singing the Beatles "And I Love Her", the words A love like ours could never die humming around in her head, soothing her.

On the morning of the twenty-eighth, Santana got a bulky letter and opened it to find a second envelope that said "DO NOT OPEN UNTIL I SAY SO" written over it. She laughed and kept it in her pocket all day, thumbing at the corner. She waited for Brittany to say something to her all day and when it got to bed time, she texted her impatiently and asked for permission. When Brittany gave it to her, she carefully opened the envelope. She doesn't know what she expected but what she found was pages and pages of writing. She searched for the first and saw the title: Reasons I love Santana Lopez and clutched the pages closer. She got to reason number 184 out of 576 before she fell asleep surrounded by Brittany's love for her.

(She read the rest in the morning, finding the pages clutched protectively to her chest when she woke up. When she got to reason number 576 – Because she likes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches too – Santana found a note scribbled underneath it beneath a perfectly drawn heart.

It said, I can't find anymore paper.

Santana laughed, even as her heart grew four more sizes, reaching for her phone.)

If she thinks about it, she decides she loves all the ways Brittany thought of to say goodnight equally, but she has a soft spot for the twenty-ninth, the day she was meant to come home. Brittany broke the news that they were stuck at lunch time, when Santana had text her to tell her to have a safe flight. She sulked and grumbled down the phone at Brittany that she hated airlines all day, up up to the time they said goodnight. Santana laid awake until her phone buzzed. It was another picture and she opened it and instantly clutched it to her chest. She thought Brittany was sharing a room with her cousin. She text her to ask her as much, trying not to mention that Brittany just sent her a naked picture of herself. She didn't get a text back, but Brittany called her and giggled throatily – naughtily – as soon as she picked up. Santana had her hand resting on her hip before she could think about it.

"They left this morning to drive home to Arizona," she explains. "I'm in the pool house alone with the door locked and the curtains closed." There was a pause. "What are you wearing?"

She didn't fall asleep, so much as blacked out after Brittany begged her to touch herself for the fourth time and coached her through it.

The thirtieth makes her the happiest. It's the one Santana thinks most about as she sits at the end of Brittany's bed. She reaches into her pocket and brings out the text to read it again.

Just think, it says. Tomorrow, I get to fall asleep with you beside me. I can't wait to start a new year with you.

As she wanders past, toothbrush in hand, Santana grabs Brittany and brings her close. She pulls her against her and buries her face into Brittany's stomach. Hands are in her hair instantly, stroking it from her face.

"What's wrong?" she asks gently, thumb tracing her cheeks.

Santana smiles and presses a kiss to her tummy, wrapping her arms around her waist so she can't move away.

"Nothing. Nothing's wrong," she says before laughing softly. "I just can't wait to start a new year with you."

/

When they were still just friends, they used to do this every Friday night before a party. They used to say dressing up was a fun way of showing boys how hot they were, but now it's just... problematic.

"How about these?" Brittany says as she pulls on a pair of jeans. Santana just steps up behind her and presses herself against her back. Brittany raises her eyebrow. "Stop it," she warns.

Santana smiles sweetly. "I didn't do anything."

Brittany rolls her eyes and turns to the mirror. Santana turns too, hand dropping to touch Brittany bare waist. "Santana," she says warningly but Santana just pulls herself closer and buries her nose against her shoulder blade. "Tell me what you think."

Santana smirks against her. "I think you should put on a shirt if you don't want me to stroke every inch of you."

She feels Brittany shiver. When she says her name a second time, it's less of a warning and more of a plea. Santana kisses her up her shoulder slowly and pretends she doesn't hear.

"We've got to be at the party in like..." Brittany speaks carefully, like she's trying to be bossy. Santana catches her eyes close dreamily as the kisses venture to the juncture of her shoulder and neck; the dazed look in her eyes makes Santana smile. She scrapes her teeth there before she presses a wet kisses to the same spot, just so she can hear that grateful little noise Brittany makes every time. "We've got to be at the party in..." she tries again, before breaking off with a sigh, clutching Santana's wrist as an arm wraps around her waist. The other reaches up so gentle fingers can brush the hair away from the back of Brittany's neck to make room for more kisses. "... an hour?"

Santana looks at the clock on Brittany's night-stand. "And twenty minutes." She brings Brittany closer venturing to the other shoulder, up the other side of her neck until she can tilt Brittany's chin to meet her mouth. The kiss is languid and soft and she doesn't stop until Brittany's pliant in her hands, clutching at her like she's a life raft. "And even then, I'm pretty sure we just have to be there for midnight."

Brittany's eyes are heavy as Santana pushes her towards the bed and lowers her against it, shoving the piles of clothes to the floor. "That makes sense," Brittany says as she's leaning up to close the gap between them. Santana moans in assent.

/

Santana leans over Brittany, after, smiles at her lazily and laughs, just because.

They're due at the party in forty-five minutes but now they both need to shower.

"I still don't know what I'm wearing," Brittany groans, but she pushes herself up to kiss Santana again anyway.

Santana sucks on her bottom lip a little before, pulling away. "You should wear the dark blue dress."

"Why?"

Santana kisses her nose. "Because it's almost as beautiful as you are," she says, glad that no one can hear her. "But like... wear tights. It's meant to snow or something later and Kurt said there would be fireworks."

Brittany brightens and claps but then she sinks a little, remembering. She looks a little weary of Santana's answer before she asks, "Are we staying the night?"

"I have my sleeping bag, a pillow and the blanket you gave me in my car," Santana says, stroking her nose over Brittany's cheek.

Brittany pulls her closer, and fusses a little in excitement at Santana's answer. "But you won't need that," she says coyly, pulling Santana's face to hers. "I'll keep you warm."

They kiss again, gentle pecks that grow steadily into more until Santana's hand starts to wander. Brittany wraps her fingers around a wrist and tugs it out from beneath the covers, smirking reproachfully.

"I'm going to get ready," she says climbing off the bed, giggling when Santana pouts and smacks her on the ass as she walks over to her bathroom. She pauses in the doorway and looks back to catch Santana's grateful eyes following her. Santana's cheeks pink guiltily before Brittany smirks and sways her hips as she disappears.

She joins her a few minutes later.

/

"You're an hour late!"

Santana holds her hands up to Kurt. "Fashion emergency!"

"Yeah," Brittany says with a straight face. "I couldn't find anything to wear and Santana had new bra related problems."

Santana bites her lip and snorts inwardly as she thinks of Brittany's face when she saw her new underwear. The hungry look in her eye is something that was totally worth the shocking amount she actually paid for it. But right now, all she can think as she takes a side glance at Brittany's perfectly straight face is, Yeah, I looked so good you wouldn't let me keep it on.

Kurt presses two fingers to his temple. "Here," he says handing them two glasses of champagne. "Just... everyone's in the living room."

/

She sees why he's so mad when she walks inside: they're pretty much the first people there... after Rachel, that is.

It's a swanky affair; Kurt seems to have moved all the furniture out of the room and draped the walls with decorations that soak it in lavish festivity. There's a few chairs dotted around the room and Santana wonders how much of a budget Kurt had managed to guilt out of his dad for this soiree to make it look like this. She sips on her champagne, and rests a hand on Brittany's back as they guide themselves deeper into the room.

"I'm really glad I didn't wear jeans," Brittany whispers, just as Rachel bounds over to them.

"Hello, ladies," she grins. "You look lovely this evening."

Santana smiles and glances over at Brittany but can't help but glance over Berry herself. Her first reaction is that Kurt must have dressed her because she actually doesn't look too bad. She's wearing an emerald green dress that doesn't make her look like a bag lady or a toddler, but the major thing Santana notices is that she's wearing her usual Finn necklace around her neck but her ears are surprisingly bare.

Well, bare in the sense that they're not wearing the earrings that she helped Finn pick out the other week. She almost says something, but then she glances at Brittany again and terror strikes her. Her mouth closes tightly because she knows she can't ask where they are, not without Rachel asking how she knew about them and not without someone asking her how she ran into Finn at the jewelery store. It reminds her of the simultaneous nagging of terror and excitement she gets in the back of her brain when she remembers that her and Britt still haven't exchanged Christmas gifts yet.

For someone who really likes presents, Brittany has a lot of rules about getting them early on Christmas. It just isn't allowed, which has been really hard for Santana while she tried to keep the red velvet box, slipped into a shiny purple gift bag and covered in bows, a secret. It makes her stomach sink when she thinks about where it is now. She has a sudden urge to run and check her car is locked but only stays when Brittany looks at her funnily and presses a hand to her back, brow furrowed. She shakes it off then and forces a smile that Brittany instantly returns.

They look away from each other to find Rachel staring at them curiously, a half smile playing at her lips.

Brittany scratches Santana's spine through her dress to soothe her as she says, "You look really pretty too, Rachel" with a kind smile.

"Yeah, Berry," Santana says. "You actually look your age."

Rachel's face falls a little but then she shrugs like the comment is better than she could have hoped for and nods a little. "Thank you, Santana," she smiles gratefully. "I bought it specially for the season, except, my dads and I don't really go to many parties at this time of year, so this is the first time I've got to wear it."

Brittany pouts a little. "That's sad," she says softly. Santana just swoons at her quietly.

Rachel nods gently but then she quickly brightens. "Anyway," she says. "How has your Christmas been ladies? First one together, so it must have been special."

Brittany looks at Santana carefully and gently pouts out her bottom lip. "I actually spent Christmas with my family in Santa Fe," she explains softly, never looking away from Santana. "I just got back this afternoon, actually," she says.

Rachel gasps. "So, you've not seen each other since before Christmas?" They both shake their head still looking at each other. "It must have been horrible being apart when everything's still so new and magical. I don't celebrate Christmas, but I know that this holiday season has been very special for Finn and I as our first."

Santana looks at Brittany and smiles. She remembers the phone calls and the texts, the letters and the songs, and suddenly feels a warmth in her chest at the memory still so fresh in her mind. She knows it'll stay like that, fond and treasured deep inside of her, and she shakes her head, turning to Rachel.

"No," she says with a half-smile. "It was... it was still the best Christmas ever."

Rachel smiles at her and Santana doesn't care; it's the truth.

/

The others slowly pour in. Puck rolls in with Quinn, shortly after Rory and Sam, and pulls out a bottle of tequila with one hand and Jack with the other. Kurt quickly grabs them from him at the door and replaces them with a glass of champagne.

"Later," he says lowly. "I want this party to remain classy... at least until midnight."

/

Santana's surprised to see that Kurt's somehow managed to convince some of the band guys to come along. They join the guys, dressed to the nines in their best suits (Santana's pretty sure they're all wearing a different suit from some performance or another) and it feels a little weird for them to not all be holding instruments.

There's also some of the Cheerios that were on the Troubletones there, too and Kurt welcomes them all warmly, close with some of them from his cheerleading stint Sophomore year. Santana watches them as they all wander into Kurt's living room and start to chatter with each other. Some of them smile at Santana and she can tell a few of them are regretting coming when the only guys on offer are the band geeks or the Glee guys.

That's until the Warblers show up (at least, she assumes they're the Warblers because they're not wearing their uniforms) and they all suddenly brighten.

Sure, it takes until almost ten for the party to warm up, but when Santana's sat in the corner laughing and joking with her friends, Brittany warm against her side as they giggle from the champagne, Santana finds it hard to find fault.

/

"I've never had champagne before," Brittany hiccups a little as Kurt hands her another.

Santana, still nursing a full glass from the last round, wonders where all this fancy champagne is coming from. He doesn't seem to be running out at all.

She's kinda sad. She was sort of hoping they'd be knocking back the tequila by now. It doesn't feel like a proper celebration without it.

Whatever, there's only forty minutes until midnight and Kurt's finally turned off the old crooning Christmas songs in favor of top forty tunes and danceable beats. She can't wait until the clock strikes 12 because that means he'll stop with this whole classy schtick and let them get wasted.

"So," Rachel says from her place on Finn's lap. "Has every body got their Midnight kisses planned?"

Her friends bubble around her through the music. Tina and Mike kiss just for the hell of it, like the hearing the word kiss is an instant prompt for them to do it. Mercedes looks to her lap and Santana looks up to find Sam staring at her. It makes her wonder where Wheezy's boyfriend is for a second until she feels that weird unfamiliar tingle of happiness for someone else. They're kinda cute together.

"What do you say, Fabray," Puck says, throwing an arm around her shoulders. "How 'bout one for old times sake?"

Quinn rolls her eyes. "Just don't get me drunk this time."

The group lapses into noise, those without a kiss promising each other that they'll help a friend out if it comes to it; there's still over half an hour yet. Plenty of time to bag a guy or gal.

Santana's too busy to listen. Instead, she disappears into her head, hand wrapped around Brittany's as a constant reminder that she doesn't have to worry about that, doesn't have to make up stupid reasons why she hates that whole New Years Kiss thing. It also fills her with a sudden pang of worry and nervousness because she didn't realize there would be this many people here. She figured she'd be fine with her friends if it came to it. They'd all be too rapt in each other to care if she gave Brittany a kiss at midnight. But now there's like... forty people in the room who she doesn't know all that well and, she doesn't want to admit it, but there's nerves in her gut that threaten to ruin what was going to be the perfect moment.

She looks to her side and doesn't find Brittany laughing with the others as they tease Rory about his "lack of snog" problem. She's smiling, but she's also glancing at Santana, noticing the nerves. It makes her feel guilty because the worry must be written all over her face. Brittany looks around before she pulls their hands apart so she can wrap her arm around Santana's back. She pulls her in tight against her protectively and Santana softens through the guilt. She smiles because she doesn't deserve this girl, at all.

Brittany turns her head and leans into her ear. Santana shivers instantly at the proximity.

"It doesn't matter," she whispers, nose barely brushing her skin but still somehow managing to make Santana grip at the hem of her dress.

Santana sighs and she wants to tell Brittany that it does matter, that it's their first New Year, their first damn holiday that they've got to celebrate while in the same state as each other. She wants to tell her that the kiss was going to be the great start to this great brand new year that they're starting together, this fresh start and new beginning where everything would be awesome from the second it started. She wants to tell her that she wants to kiss her now, that she's wanted to kiss her every second of every day since before she can remember, and that she'll probably never stop, but it would be really nice to kiss her because she's meant to. She's about to when a loud laugh echoes across the room as she's leaning closer. She jumps and flinches away with the shock and the words disappear quickly. She looks away ashamed as Brittany tightens a knowing arm around her.

"It's okay," she says softly, reaching with her spare hand to grab Santana's. "It's okay," she repeats, but it isn't.

/

"It's almost time," Finn says, checking his watch. "Kurt," he calls over the music. "It's almost time." He helps Rachel off his lap and she sways a little before he puts his arm around her. "I've got to go get the fireworks ready," he explains.

Santana feels an irrational (or maybe it's perfectly rational) surge of fear at the idea of someone allowing Finn to handle explosives.

It's not a minute later when Kurt is lowering the volume on the music and calling for attention.

"Everybody!" he says, waving and climbing on a chair. "It's almost midnight, so why don't you all come grab your coats and go outside ready for the fireworks!"

Santana lets Brittany lead her out behind the others, her metaphorical tail between her legs. They're some of the last out and Brittany maneuvers them to a space at the back of the crowd and faces back to the glass doors into the kitchen, where Kurt's set up the family TV set on the counter ready to watch the ball drop in Times Square.

Brittany stands close and watches silently as Ryan Seacrest starts talking to whatever people they have to sing on there this year. Santana turns as Puck starts to nudge Quinn playfully at the sight of him and smirks when she remembers Quinn's stupid tattoo. She turns back to Brittany and the TV and watches as Dick Clark talks and people across New York City start to scream. She knows that one day, they'll be there, stood in Times Square as they wait for the ball to drop in the freezing cold. She knows she'll kiss Brittany then. No one in New York cares if she's kissing a girl. She can marry a girl in New York if she wants to. Her heart swells at the memory, the possibility.

The minutes shrink quickly until fireworks start coming from times square as the clock counts down. The people around her start to grab onto each other ready to kiss as they watch it on the screen. It gets to twenty quickly and they start chanting. Brittany does too, a sad smile mixed with anticipation on her face. Santana doesn't watch the count down, she just watches Brittany, but when Finn accidentally starts setting off the fireworks, she looks at the countdown to see that there's still ten seconds to go and rolls her eyes.

But then she looks back at Brittany and her eyes are so wide with wonder that she can't contain her own soft smile, can't contain the love that threatens to burst from within her at Brittany's dropped open jaw, her unbridled excitement. Around them, people count the last remaining second of this year away and it rushes back through Santana's eyes, fast as lightening.

She thinks of how it began, how it progressed. She thinks of boys and broken hearts and promises. She thinks of how many things, how many emotions she's felt in the past year, how much fear and disappointment. She'd gladly call it the worst year of her life if she couldn't look beside her and see what she got because of it. Fireworks reflect back in Brittany's eyes and, for a moment, she remembers the past Fourth of July weekend and how the fireworks had reflected in Brittany's blue eyes then too. Things were so fragile between them and all Santana wanted to do as they sat in the crowd that consisted of most of the population of this stupid town they live, was kiss her.

But she couldn't then and, as she looks at Brittany now, beautiful in her dress that's as dark blue as the night sky, she realizes she can now. If there's a person here who doesn't know that Brittany's hers, they should because she is. Brittany's hers. She's finally hers and, for the first time in the weeks it's been since they've been dating, she realizes that truth and there's no way she's going to waste this moment.

"ONE! HAPPY NEW YEAR!" the people around them scream but Santana doesn't, she's too busy turning to face Brittany and cupping her cheeks in her hands. It takes a second but Brittany looks away from the colors in the sky to look at her and she opens her mouth to speak but Santana cuts her off.

"I love you," she whispers, then she's tugging her down into a kiss and doesn't give a damn about the people around them or what they think.

She kisses her and finds out how warm Brittany's mouth is compared to how cold her hands are. She takes them in her own and wraps them around her own waist, inside of her coat, until they tangle together at the base of her back. Her own hands return instantly to Brittany's cheeks and she strokes the sudden warmth there with a smile quirking into their kiss but doesn't stop for anything.

It's not until many minutes later, when the fireworks end, that they pull apart. Santana opens her eyes and concentrates on Brittany, watches the way her eyes flicker open and her lips remain parted. She runs her own thumb across the bottom one, wiping away any damp that might cause them to chap and smiles at her gently.

"You didn't..." Brittany starts softly.

Santana nods, leaning up to kiss her again. "I know," she says carefully. "But I wanted to."

/

Most of the guest leave soon after midnight citing curfews or a ride that won't stay up any later. By one am, it's just the Glee club sat around on the floor in the Hummel-Hudson living room, laughing at each other and sipping on champagne as they tease Artie about him letting Sugar midnight-kiss him.

Santana doesn't really care about the tequila, or getting wasted, anymore, not when Brittany's got her head in her lap and her legs sprawled into the middle of the circle they're sitting in. Her hand strokes through Brittany's hair gently, and she watches her as she giggles goofily, still tipsy from the champagne, at Artie's excuses.

"God," Rachel says suddenly. "God, I can't take it anymore." Everyone looks at her only to find her staring over the circle at Santana and Brittany. "You two are so cute, so cute, like... adorable. I just can't."

Brittany giggles but Santana blushes and looks down at her in her lap, shyly. Brittany takes the opportunity to look at her and smirk for a moment. Santana finds herself smiling widely before she can help it.

"I think that's enough champagne for you, Berry," she mumbles after a moment, and she doesn't look back up until the blush has half-disappeared from her cheeks and everyone's stopped looking at her.

/

Mercedes leaves with Rory, Sam and Artie ready to go to church in the morning with her family, while the boys leave to continue a dorkfest of video games at Artie's when his mom comes to pick him up.

It leaves the rest of them still sat quietly in the living room and when both Mike and Tina, and Rachel, all start falling asleep it's decided that everyone should probably hit the hay.

It's barely past 2am and Santana would say something about them being light-weights but she's too calm to try. She stays sitting as Kurt and Blaine start fussing around the others. Finn picks Rachel up off the floor and carries her off to his room with quiet a "good night" whispered to the others. Blaine helps Mike bring his and Tina's overnight bag from the car and leads them to an air mattress set up in the study. Quinn and Puck follow Kurt up to his parents room and Santana chuckles quietly when he makes them promise not to make any more babies in it, amused at the sound of disgust Quinn makes in response.

A few moments later, he comes downstairs and looks at them, still sat together on the floor, Brittany's head in her lap as they look at each other. The quiet had been nice for them to just look at each other, Santana quietly stroking Brittany's forehead. She sees Kurt second-guess his approach from the corner of her eye.

"Um," he says. "We've got no more beds, but I can get you some quilts and lay them out in here, if you want. It might be a little cold but... we've got enough covers to keep you warm."

It's Brittany that looks at him, soft and gentle as she whispers "Thanks, Kurt."

/

Santana comes back from the car with their bags, shivering at the sudden drop in temperature with white flecks covering her hair and her coat.

"It's snowing," she shivers when Brittany looks up from laying out quilts on the floor. Her eyes brighten a little as Kurt walks in carrying another armful of blankets and pillows.

"If you need anymore," he says softly. "There's a closet next to the bathroom upstairs and there's some more in there. I put the heating on but it takes a while when it's so cold."

"Thanks," she says with a nod, watching as Brittany turns to hug him.

"Your party was awesome," she tells him in a whisper. "Way better than Rachel's."

He grins like that's the best thing she could have ever said, before disappearing upstairs.

Santana looks across at Brittany and shrugs before laughing. "I'm not tired," she says stepping closer, glad when Brittany mirrors her movements.

"Me neither," Brittany says with a smile, her arms wrapping around Santana's waist. "We probably shouldn't have sex, right?"

Santana buries her head into Brittany's shoulder to stop herself from laughing to loud because, as much as she'd love that, she really doesn't want to risk being walked in on by someone getting a glass of water.

"No," she says with a shake of her head. "But we can cuddle?"

Brittany looks at her like that's the best thing she could have said.

/

She's pretty sure Arctic explorers need less insulation than they do, but somehow they're laying on about four quilts and two sleeping bags, while double that cover their bodies.

Somehow, they're still shivering.

"Maybe it's going to be like The Day After Tomorrow," Brittany whispers into the half light. Kurt had found them a lamp from somewhere that left them glowing in low warm light, Brittany's hair shining like gold. "Maybe we'll fall asleep and then we'll wake up and we'll be snowed in and Artie will have to put skis on his wheels to come find us. We'll have to burn Kurt's old copies of Vogue to keep warm."

Santana giggles and shuffles closer. "That sounds cozy, Britt Britt," she mumbles. "But I think Kurt would rather die before burning his old copies of Vogue."

Brittany giggles and presses their noses together before leaning in to kiss her lazily. Santana feels the fabric of their t-shirts and the flannel of their pajama pants rubbing together, creating heat between them.

The only thing that isn't slowly heating up is Brittany ice-block feet. She pulls away from her and giggles. "Your feet are cold."

Brittany smiles. "I know," she says. "But I was concentrating so hard on remembering to wear tights under my dress that I forgot to pack socks in my overnight bag."

Santana snuggles her closer and molds herself to Brittany's body. Brittany snuggles back, her hands stroking up and down Santana's spine over her t-shirt. Lost to the touch, Santana hums a little as she sinks into the warmth and softness of her body. She thinks about the panties she's still wearing under these clothes, of how easily it would be to slip them off and warm up properly. She knows they can't.

"Wait," she says, suddenly. "I've got a spare pair of socks in my bag."

"Yeah?" Brittany mumbles.

"Yeah," Santana says with no signs of moving away to get them for her. "They're behind me in my bag if you can reach them."

She can because she reaches blindly behind her into Santana's Cheerios duffle. Santana stays snuggled into her, comfortable where she is pressed into Brittany's shoulder, until she hears the ruffle of something she didn't want to hear the ruffle of.

She's darting away from her, mouth opening to tell her that, actually, she'll get them for her, quicker than she thought possible. Her mouth opens and closes like a fish out of water, panic seeping through her body as she tries to regain control of it. It's too late, however. Brittany's eyes narrow at her as she finds something better than a pair of comfy old socks.

"Santana..." she tests, as her hand moves back to her body. It brings with it the shiny purple gift bag covered in more bows than a bag that small should be covered in. Her face brightens a little when it comes closer and she notices that it is in fact exactly what she thinks it is. Still, she smiles a little and asks. "What's this?"

Santana shakes her head quickly, eyes looking away, embarrassed for what she knows is about to happen. "It's nothing," she says quietly. "It's... it's... nothing."

Brittany ignores her. "Is it my Christmas present?" Santana shakes her head. "But it says 'Merry Christmas, Britt Britt' on the tag."

Santana does look at her then, pleadingly, but Brittany just smiles and pouts at her. She moves closer and pecks a kiss at her nose, then her lips. Santana smiles despite the humiliation she's about three minutes away from feeling.

"Can I open it?" Brittany asks quietly, but there's excitement twinkling in her eyes. It makes Santana nod after a pause, ignoring how terrified she feels.

She looks away as Brittany opens it, rolls onto her back away from her and stares at the ceiling after Brittany untangles her arms from around her to open the gift.

She feels stupid because, well, because she's getting a bit ahead of herself here. They've barely been together, what? Two months? People have only known about them for a few weeks. It's... She knows that it's a bit much for it being so soon but, she spent hours laying looking up at her ceiling in bed from the second she realized they were (hopefully) still going to be together at Christmas. She wanted it to be special, she thought it would be special, until she got the damn thing home and instantly felt stupid because she's getting miles ahead of herself if she thinks that Brittany's ready for what's in that bag.

She closes her eyes once Brittany's actually in the bag, squeezes them tightly together as she waits long moments to hear the squeak of a tiny hinge. When Brittany doesn't say anything, she finds her pride begin to swell inside of her while stone walls start to preemptively build themselves up to protect her heart from disappointment. Her eyes flicker open softly and she brings her hands onto her stomach until she can wring them together nervously.

Finally, Brittany speaks, her voice thick with something Santana doesn't really recognize.

"You... you got me a ring?" She asks.

Santana blinks because her eyes still start to sting. She still feels stupid. "Yeah," she nods. "I'm... I'm sorry."

Brittany lets out a little laugh of disbelief and Santana wants to look at her but she's too scared to. "You got me a ring?" Brittany repeats.

Santana shrugs and gasps out the breath she's been holding. "I don't know what I was thinking," she says but she doesn't sound sure of herself at all. "I just thought..." she shrugs. "I just... you don't have to keep if you don't want it. I bought you that book about how to be a good president, too... I just..."

She doesn't expect it when Brittany rolls on top of her, thighs bracketing her hips. She leans down to press their foreheads together and it knocks all the wind from Santana, her hands reaching to brace themselves against Brittany's hips.

"You got me a ring," Brittany says again, a whisper this time. It isn't a question but a statement and Santana's finally forced to look at her, to see the disbelief and happiness in her eyes as she looks down at her.

She nods softly. "Yeah," she says and then again, because she doesn't want to force anything on her – "You don't have to wear it."

Brittany looks at her confused. "Why wouldn't I wear it?"

She sits up a little and takes the thing from the box. The blue of the sapphire makes blue shadows around the room and the small bracketing diamonds twinkle in the low light matching Brittany's eyes. She holds it between the fingers of both hands and Santana watches the nervous excitement in her face as she pauses before putting it on.

"I..." she starts. Her cheeks pink. "Will... will you put it on for me?"

Santana sees the challenge in her eyes and knows what it means. She gulps as she reaches to take the small piece of white gold from between Brittany's fingers and knows what she's asking her. Brittany wipes both her palms on the thighs of her pants and holds them both low and level for Santana to take. Santana bites her lip as she watches her carefully, sees how she's attempting to patiently see which hand she puts it on.

It takes her a moment, but it's probably the easiest thing she's ever done when she finally reaches out to steady the shaking of Brittany's left hand. It's even easier to proceed and push it down her fourth finger until it's snug against her skin.

She lets her hands drop from Brittany's to rest on her thighs and stares at how perfect the ring looks there before she can't take it anymore and has to look up and make sure she's done the right thing.

The wideness of Brittany's eyes and the tears that threaten to fall in them say more than enough. The disbelief in Brittany's face and the pride there too; they make the weeks of worry worth it as Brittany stares at her like nothing else exists in the world apart from them.

Santana's not prepared for it when she takes a shallow breath in, or when her eyes widen just that little bit more. It's like as soon as Santana looked up at her and she saw the sincerity in her yes, she had the last thing she needed to know that this was actually happening.

"Yeah?" she gasps softly. Her right hand reaches to touch the ring to make sure it's there.

Santana nods and can't help the chuckle that leaves her lips. "Yeah," she nods, grabbing Brittany's hand until their noses are pressed together again. "For now."

Brittany giggles and when they kiss, her hands press to Santana's cheeks like she can't believe she's real.

/

They're still making out a while later (and have lost their pajama pants, too) when Brittany suddenly rolls off of her and reaches into her bag. Santana's a little bit mad because Brittany had been whispering quietly in her ear what she'd like to do to her if they weren't laying on the Hummel-Hudson living room floor.

"I forgot!" she says around a gasp. "I have your Christmas present, too."

Santana's about to forget her annoyance and get excited but then... she catches the sight of a familiar looking robin egg blue box. Her heart drops a little and she blinks because it can't be real –

But then, no. Brittany smirks a little as she instantly returns to kissing her, forcing a box into her hands that she didn't expect to have for quite some time.

"Britt Britt," she says warningly as she brings it up to her chest. Brittany keeps kissing her, even as she narrows her eyes and looks at it. Sure enough, Tiffany. She waits until Brittany's moved away a little before she shakes her head, smiling. "I'm mad at you," she says. "What did you do?"

Brittany scoffs and resumes her kisses. Santana almost says screw the box when Brittany's kisses linger behind her ear and start sucking.

"My stocks are doing well," she explains carefully. "And, plus, my mom knows a lady who got me a deal..."

Santana's barely able to concentrate on what she's saying when she's got kisses happening behind her ear, a hand under her shirt at her hip and a Tiffany box on her chest. She lifts the lid of slowly and puts it beside her. Her heart stops a little at what she finds inside.

"It's..." Brittany whispers when Santana holds up the locket. "You're supposed to get the owner's initials engraved on it, but..." she shrugs. "I thought I'd put mine instead."

Santana holds the metal in her hands, feels it warming against the heat of her palm as she pulls Brittany down for a kiss. Brittany barely lets her before she's pulling away and urging Santana to sit up. When she does, she takes the locket from Santana's hands and unlatches it ready to place it around Santana's neck. When the pendant touches her skin, Santana reaches up to touch it while she relishes the touch of Brittany's fingers, carefully fastening it at the back of her neck.

"I know..." Brittany starts before Santana can even say thank you. "I wanted to buy you a ring, too..." she admits softly. "But I... I got scared just buying you the locket," she shrugs. "I didn't want to scare you away," she explains as she begins to lay them back down. "But you deserve it. You deserve so much because you've been through so much these past few months. You've done so many brave things." Brittany's arm hooks underneath her neck as one hand plays with her hair and the other touches the locket around her neck. "I just... I didn't want you to feel like you were losing everything with all of this stuff happening... I wanted you to always have a reminder that, from all of this, you got my heart, too..."

Santana's stunned. She looks at Brittany, not sure what to say but knows that she has to. What comes from her mouth, isn't what she expects it to be. She waits for Thank you or I don't deserve you to leave her lips, but it doesn't.

"Your ring..." she starts. "It... it has my name engraved on the inside."

Brittany frowns at her before she reaches with her hand to pull off the ring. Santana watches her as she curiously looks at the name written on the inside of the band.

"'Santana Marie'," She reads softly. "Where's your last name?"

Santana gulps up at her and shakes her head. "That's... that's," she coughs and smiles, sudden tears in her eyes, except they don't feel so sudden. "Lopez won't always be my last name," she explains softly. It takes Brittany a moment but then her eyes widen again in understanding.

"Oh," she smiles goofily.

"Yeah," Santana nods, reaching for the ring. She slips it back on Brittany's finger for a second time and momentarily feels excited for the next two times she gets to slip different rings on the same finger.

But then Brittany's kissing her, whispering to her how much she loves her and she can think about very little else.

/

I give her all my love, that's all I do, and if you saw my love, you'd love her too. I love her!

Santana giggles as Brittany sing-whispers into her ear. The last time she looked it was almost six am but neither of them seem to be sleepy enough to want to go to sleep. She's quite content to let Brittany sing and whisper into her ear for as long as she wants, especially when she gets to play with the brand new locket around her neck and catch the sparkling of Brittany's ring every so often.

"Where'd you learn that song?" she asks softly.

Brittany kisses her. "My grandma was listening to it and it reminded me of you, so it ended up stuck in my head."

"Oh yeah?"

She hums in response. "A lot of stuff that reminds me of you ends up stuck in my head actually."

"Like what?"

Brittany giggles and there's that naughty giggle again, fingers brush down from the hand clutching her locket to the waistband of her panties.

"I could show you but you said we're not allowed to have sex on Kurt's living room floor," she husks. "Because these panties..." she whispers. "They remind me of lots of things."

Santana gulps. Kisses press on her neck again, punctuated by a sudden bite.

"That's unless..." Brittany starts. "You've changed your mind."

Santana lets out a shaky breath. Her hand follows the same path Brittany's fingers did until she can wrap it around and wrist and urge it beneath soft lace.

"I don't care," she gasps when Brittany takes the hint. "I really, really don't care."

/

"Eres la mejor que jamás he tenido."

Brittany giggles at her after a moment. "I knew that already."

Santana sweeps a hand to smack at her ass where it wraps around her waist. "Mean."

"What?" Brittany says chuckling. "I'm the best anyone's ever had."

It's almost seven in the morning and Santana's not sure how a sweeping comment about Spanish class ended up with them practicing their Spanish on each other. She's even less sure how the Spanish became them telling each other secrets.

"Now, you give me one," she says scratching at the base of Brittany's spine. She purrs like a cat almost, sprawled out over her as they fight to stay awake.

"Estoy cansada," Brittany mumbles against her neck."Pero... no quiero dormir. Quiero... mirarte para siempre."

Santana giggles, loving Brittany's funny Spanish accent. "Go to sleep," she instructs. "You can look at me forever in the morning."

"But I want to look at you now," Brittany whines, groaning. "Eres la cosa mas bonita que jamás he visto."

Santana chuckles. "Is this what you do all Spanish class? Think of new ways to make me weak at the knees?"

Brittany smirks around a yawn. "Yep."

Santana rolls her eyes and kisses her forehead. "Go to sleep, before I'm forced to kiss you again."

"Wouldn't have to force you," Brittany mumbles, but then: "Okay... but... tell me another Spanish secret."

Santana huffs but she turns her head to look at Brittany and smiles. Her hands, strokes over the knuckles of Brittany's hand, still wrapped around her shoulders and she smiles as she grazes her fingers over the ring.

"Quiero casarme contigo," she lets tumble quietly from her mouth. Brittany's tired breath hitches at it after a moment, once the words have processed.

She snuggles closer to her and Santana turns as she feels her body relax completely, face pillowed on her shoulder.

"Silly," she mumbles, sleep drunk and quiet. "That's not a secret if I want it too."

Santana laughs and watches, waits for the moment when Brittany slips into sleep, before she joins her.

/

When she wakes up, it doesn't feel like she's slept all that long at all. Her eyes sting and her body aches. For a second, she panics that everything was a dream and her hand automatically drifts up to her neck to feel for the locket.

Her heart flips over when she finds it warm against her skin.

It flips again when she finds Brittany exactly where she fell asleep, mouth drooling a little onto the shoulder of Santana's t-shirt. Santana can hear the sounds of people in the kitchen but she ignores it in favor of watching Brittany. She looks adorable, skin pale and lips pink, her body heavy against her as it disappears beneath their mountain of covers.

She looks down at Brittany's left hand, somehow drifted from her shoulder onto the curve of her breast in sleep. Santana laughs a little and shakes her head, doesn't think again when she slowly begins to push Brittany back onto her back.

It's like settling a baby. Brittany makes an airy little sigh before she searches for the comfort she just lost. Her brow furrows and she reaches out for Santana's body hovering above her. Santana doesn't let her eyes open before she's kissing her. She was probably waking up before but, she likes the idea of waking Brittany with kisses. After a moment, Brittany finally starts to kiss back. It's sloppy and lazy like the best morning kisses are.

"Sleepy," she whines when Santana starts to kiss her cheeks and nose. She wraps her arms around Santana. "Come sleep more with me."

Santana giggles. She'd love that but she's pretty sure Kurt and Berry will be in here at any moment to start the clean up mission.

"Later," she says before hoisting herself up onto her forearms. She likes the way the locket hangs between them. Brittany must too, because she tugs her down by it to kiss her again until Santana pulls away giggling. "Come on, wake up..." she whispers. "Berry's awake and I'm not wearing any pants." Brittany reaches down to cup her ass at the reminder. "Come on, baby, wake up. I want to start my new year with you some more."

Brittany cracks her eyes open finally. "What did you have in mind?" she says.

Santana smiles. "My parents are visiting family," she says softly, teasingly, even as Brittany's hands start to wander. "I was thinking... movie marathon, and cuddles..."

"Yeah?"

Santana lets her head collapse to kiss Brittany. "Yeah," she whispers. "Plus, I have another pair of new underwear to show you. I think you'll like them."

Brittany's eyes narrow. "And why is that?"

It's Santana's turn to lean into her ear and whisper then. When Brittany hears what she says, Santana feels her entire body shiver. Santana giggles into the kiss that Brittany gives her, rolling her back onto her covers.

Unfortunately, it's interrupted by two sets of feet wandering into the living room.

"OH MY GOD!"

"I can't... I can't... just look at them!"

Santana feels no embarrassment when her forehead falls forward onto Brittany's because, honestly, if all years with Brittany are going to start like this, she can't wait for the rest of them.