Warning: People have told me that this story is really, really sad and that it may cause emotional damage to anyone who reads it. I won't spoil the ending, but it is an apocalypse story, so it does talk about the end of the world... which means that it has a definite end. Just so you know.
The scientists say they have approximately ten hours left, but somehow approximately turns into exactly and everyone starts counting down the minutes.
Santana's parents are already at the hospital working when the news breaks and they stay there. They have to stay there, to maintain decency, to keep things human until the end. They tell her to stay where she is, that they'll come to her when they can. She knows they won't come, though.
They mutter love at the end of the phone call and it seems like too much and not enough at once. Santana tries not to think that it will be the last time, but.
When Brittany shows up at Santana's doorstep in her Cheerios jacket and purple polka dot galoshes, Santana suddenly knows that this is exactly the way it should be.
Still, she asks, What about your parents?
Brittany says that her family went to church to pray for a miracle.
Santana asks, Do you want to go to them?
Brittany looks at Santana: I don't know how to pray.
Brittany says she thinks they should just do little things and Santana says sure because that sounds about right. They both change into pajamas, only this time it seems different than it has all the other times before; they don't feel even the polite kind of shame in watching the clothes strip away from each other's skin, in standing naked and wanting in front of one another, their eyes unquenchably thirsty for every divot and contour.
You're beautiful, they both say at once and then they laugh because it's just such a them thing. In so many ways, this doesn't feel real—not even when the tornado sirens start wailing outside the window.
Are you hungry? Santana asks Brittany and Brittany nods, surprised; she didn't realize that she was until Santana asked. What do you want? Santana asks and Brittany says, Anything at all.
They wind up eating macaroni-and-cheese—Santana with ketchup and Brittany without—pancakes with syrup, sugary kid cereal, and microwave popcorn, all washed down with the oldest wine from Santana's parents' liquor cabinet. They take a long time to eat and sit on the same side of the table, leaned against each other. They feed one another from a single plate, with a single fork, and take second and third helpings without having to feel guilty about Cheerios and Coach Sue's special diet rules.
Outside the window, the sky turns sick black and moody; it's only seven o'clock.
They don't bother to wash their dishes or put the leftovers away.
There's ice cream later, if you want it, Santana says and Brittany smiles. That sounds good, she says, taking Santana by the hand and leading her out of the dining room and towards the basement stairs. Dance with me, she whispers, breathless, and Santana feels like they're at the magic part of the movie, even though this is really the sad end part, and it's not supposed to feel happy at all.
They hold hands all the way down the steps, their socks slipping over the thick, plush carpet that Santana's father had installed just last year as a birthday present to her mom. They flick on all the lights in the basement so there's no more darkness anywhere and Santana cues up the entertainment system with the surround-sound speakers.
For the first time in her life, she turns the volume to full blast and doesn't care about the neighbors or the city noise ordinances. We're gonna go deaf, Brittany shouts over the music, laughing. Santana just smirks and laughs, because, so what?
They've danced together before, but never like this, never with their bodies so flush against each other, so carelessly, perfectly together, just for them. They dance to stupid songs, leaving dark footprints against the light shush of the carpet, and sing along to the shitty lyrics, cracking each other up. They dance hard and fast, popping their joints and rolling their hips, exhaling, hot and humid, onto each other's skin.
In time to the fast tempo, they're sexy as fuck and sweaty as hell. Their bangs stick to their faces and Santana's hair clings to her lipgloss, the way it always does; Brittany brushes the hair away from Santana's mouth with butterfly fingers. It isn't exactly perfect, because they haven't choreographed or practiced anything, but it is kind of perfect, all the same. They don't mind the stuttered steps or the rings of wet around their collars and the underarms of their shirts; they just lean into each other and dance and dance and dance.
When the song switches, Brittany performs three quick jetés, gliding away from Santana. Brittany curtsies like she would at the start of a recital and then dances in a style all her own, like an angel and a goon and the second coming of Martha Graham and liquid light, the most beautiful thing Santana has ever, ever seen.
Over the years, Santana has attended almost every dance performance Brittany has put on, watching as Brittany progressed from her first awkward, preadolescent ballet solo to being the star of her studio, in her prime, and every conservatory director's dream. Santana has always studied Brittany's body and worshipped it, reverencing her musicality and the way that gravity means as little to Brittany as petty social rules—like the one that says that the most popular girl in school can't be queer and can't be in the glee club and on the cheerleading squad at the same time—do, but she's never seen Brittany dance like this: entirely just for Santana.
Santana feels so, so loved, having Brittany give over her art like this, watching Brittany create something beautiful out of her imagination and extend it to Santana wholly and unreservedly as a gift.
When the song switches again, this time to something slow, they come together, as if drawn to one another by magnets. Instead of dancing with their hands staggered on waists and shoulders, they just link fingers and shuffle close together. Santana sets her head on Brittany's shoulder and Brittany kisses her neck. They kiss and kiss and kiss, until their feet stop moving.
They dance until the playlist on Santana's iPod runs out, until the end of the music, until the end of moving, but not until the end, the end.
Thank you, Brittany whispers, against Santana's cheek, and Santana loves Brittany because Brittany is the only person Santana knows who can give everything she has away in perfect gratitude, without regret.
They decide to take a bath—just to be close together, just because it's become their thing—and head upstairs, leaving all the lights on in the basement as they go. They take the stairs almost on threes, half running and half clambering, laughing as they chase each other, their breath already thready from the dance they leave behind.
Santana tugs Brittany into her parents' bedroom, and then to the master bath. Bubble bath? she asks and Brittany says Sure thang, wearing her little cat smile.
They don't shut the door behind them.
Brittany can count the amount of times she's been in this bathroom on two hands; it's always been off-limits, a grown up place, cloistered away from the rest of the house.
It's not anymore, though, she supposes.
Nothing really is.
Santana turns the faucet and steam curls in cursive wisps around the water. As the tub fills, Santana and Brittany get down on their knees and search through Santana's mother's cabinets, fishing out whatever bath salts and good-smelling soaps they can find.
When Brittany discovers a dozen wax wick votives and a box of long-stemmed matches stored in a basket under the sink, she and Santana grin at each other and trade the florescent ceiling lights for the threadbare glow of the candles. An orange flush reflects on the dark, lapping bathwater and the whole room feels still and almost like a church.
They peel their clothing, still clingy with sweat, from their bodies, undressing each other with careful fingers, and, once naked, stand in front of the mirror and stare, unabashed, at one another. Santana fills the tub with bubbles and salt that smells like sweet pea; that smell has always reminded her of Brittany and she wants to take in as much of it as she can, as much as she can until.
Brittany helps her into the tub, holding her hand so she doesn't slip. She waits for Santana to sit down before gracefully setting in herself, fitting into the sling of Santana's body, their wet skin slipping until they nearly slide off one another; Brittany wraps her arms around Santana's waist under the water and tucks her chin against Santana's collarbone, steadying their pose, and Santana links her hands at the small of Brittany's back, cradling her.
Hey, Brittany mutters against Santana's neck. Hey, Santana says back and they both sigh.
After a few minutes, Brittany grabs a handful of bubble foam and smears it up Santana's arm. Santana laughs and retaliates, giving Brittany a cap of bubbles, right at the top of her head.
Do you think they have bubble bath in China? Brittany asks. Santana thinks about it and says, I don't know. Who invented bubble bath? Brittany asks. I don't know, Santana says again, but if we ever meet them, we should thank them. Brittany nods, her chin slipping against Santana's chest, and says, We should totally buy them a sandwich.
Isn't that uncomfortable? Santana asks, shifting a little when she realizes how contorted Brittany is, lying against her, and Brittany just shrugs, Not really. You feel nice, Brittany mumbles, kissing at Santana's breastbone. Santana hums, Yeah, so do you. Brittany wiggles her toes against Santana's leg and it's the cutest thing in the world, Santana thinks, even though she can't exactly see Brittany do it.
The bath salts grain against the undersides of their legs and effervesce until they dissolve. The water runs warm for a long, long time, but even when it starts to cool down, they don't get out of the tub; they just cling closer together instead.
Eventually, Brittany sits up and scoots to one end of the tub. Turn around, Brittany coaxes, and Santana does, trusting her, ambling her knees and legs over, shifting how she sits. Brittany strains water through her fingers, drizzling it over the crown of Santana's head. She reaches for Santana's mother's shampoo and rubs it against her hands, coating them, before combing her fingers through Santana's hair in long, careful strokes.
Santana closes her eyes and leans back against Brittany's body, allowing Brittany to move her neck for her, floppy as a rag doll and totally relaxed. Brittany's nails separate the snarls in her hair one by one before Brittany sponges the lingering shampoo away, wetting Santana's neck and forehead in the process. Brittany hums the whole time, a song from one of her sister's children's music albums.
I love you in the morning and in the afternoon. I love you in the evening, underneath the moon.
Once Brittany finishes washing Santana's hair, Santana returns the favor. She loves the slip of Brittany's hair—so much sleeker and finer than her own—in her hands and loves how Brittany relaxes into her, her shoulders pressed against Santana's breasts, their hips spooned together under the water. Brittany is so tall that she has to curve her legs to fit the tub; with her free hand, Santana massages Brittany's ankle, feeling the pads of her own fingers turn soft and saturated, feeling Brittany's skin cool with the temperature of the bath.
When they finish washing each other, Brittany smiles. Now we have mermaid hair, she says, admiring their wet locks. Fuck yeah, we do, baby, says Santana. I was watching that movie when my sister was born, Brittany says. I remember because it was at the part when the seagull spies on the Sea Witch when Grandma came in to tell me that I had a little sister and that we had to go to the hospital to meet her and I was happy because that meant that I didn't have to watch the scary part at the end.
Santana hasn't heard that story before.
She loves learning new things about Brittany.
Everything you do is interesting, she says, kissing Brittany's knuckles. Tell me all of your stories.
That's what they're doing ten minutes later, when they get out of the tub, blow out the candles, and wrap themselves in the Santana's mother's best Egyptian cotton bath towels, leaving the bathroom without draining the tub first—telling stories to each other about when they were little kids.
Brittany acts out the time when she got not one but two wads of chewed rainbow bubblegum stuck in her little sister's hair after gymnastics class just as they walk past Santana's parents bedroom windows; for a moment, they both pause because the sky is an ugly, depthless black and there are no stars and no moon and no clouds, just a barrier, like someone pulled a thick, gray curtain over the atmosphere. Brittany's brow furrows a little and, after a few seconds, Santana shuts the blinds hard. She convinces herself that she's shivering because she's naked.
Let's go get warm, she says, and Brittany agrees.
Brittany follows Santana to her bedroom before picking up the story again. When she does, Santana feels glad to hear sunshine in Brittany's voice, because there isn't any left outside. They don't bother getting dressed; they just towel dry and slip into Santana's bed. Instead of lying down, they wrap the comforter around themselves, and sit, holding hands, their knees bumped up against each other.
Funny stories about childhood turn into stories about various injuries—Santana had no idea that Brittany had twisted her ankles so many times doing tumbling and dance. While they talk, their fingers find each other's scars and trace them, familiar; they've already heard all those stories before, because scar stories are some of the first that you tell when you really become friends with someone, and they've been friends for a long, long time.
As they talk, their laughter turns to Oh poor babys and I'm sorrys and Let me kiss it betters and San, it's been, like, fifteen years nows and I know, I know, but I wasn't there to kiss it when it happened, so just let me kiss it tonights. Kissing the ghosts of twisted ankles turns into deep kisses on the mouth turns into their hands tangled in each other's hair. They peek at each other between kisses, taking in the rounds of each other's faces and the different colors of one another's eyelashes.
You're the sweetest person in the whole world, Brittany says against Santana's lips, in her very-serious-business voice. When Santana blushes and almost looks away, Brittany says, You are, Santana, and I don't know why you never believe it, because it's so true that it should be a fact in a book or something—like a big, fat book in a library. Santana just smiles shyly into Brittany's mouth and shrugs, I'm sorry you twisted your ankle.
It might be the weirdest thing that they've ever said to each other while kissing, but for some reason it just seems kind of stupidly romantic tonight.
They kiss even harder after that and the kissing turns into making love.
Maybe it's because Santana wants so much for it to be perfect that it isn't perfect, at first. Their stomachs feel hard and heavy from eating so much junk food and then dancing afterwards as they press against each other and Santana can't help but fret about whether or not she's being selfish, because on the one hand she wants to give everything to Brittany, but on the other hand she wants to experience everything at once herself, because.
The fretting makes it hard to feel.
Quit thinking so much, Brittany says, reading her mind.
Let me take care of you, they both say at the same time and then they laugh because it's just such a them thing.
They've never really been a couple for laughing in bed, but somehow it feels good to laugh now. Brittany raises herself up onto the palms of her hands, her hair dangling down like the boughs of a weeping willow tree, tickling at Santana's skin. She smiles and pulls her scrunchy face, then kisses Santana's forehead one, Santana's nose two, and her lips three. Goofball, she says grinning, and, somehow, after that, it gets so much better.
They find new places on which to lavish devotion—the impossibly soft spot of skin just behind Brittany's ear, where the baby down wisps of her hair first start, the creases in Santana's palms, the crooks of knees and the smooth soft of closed eyelids. They stare into the quick of each other's eyes, drawing closer and closer together.
Santana doesn't feel nervous anymore; she just enjoys this girl who's been her every first that ever mattered. She worships at Brittany's body, remembering the dancing and the bath and a thousand other moments memorized over years. I love you, they both pant, again and again. I love you, I love you, I love you, love, the only prayer that either one of them knows.
They lie face to face on the pillow, Santana running her fingers through Brittany's hair, admiring how beautiful she is. I love your freckles, Santana says, even though she's pretty sure Brittany already knows that. Brittany hums and nods, totally content. She pets at the back of Santana's neck. I didn't used to have them, she mumbles, until I was like five, but then it was just, like, bam, overnight, like I stayed out in the sun too long. Santana laughs, Maybe you reached your sun quota. Probably, Brittany agrees, because I think that's the first Christmas we went to New Mexico to visit my grandparents. Is it really that sunny there in the winter? Santana asks. Brittany nods, I was gonna take you, someday.
That shouldn't catch Santana's ears, but it does.
Yeah? she asks, and her voice sounds high and hummingbird flighty. Brittany looks at her seriously for a moment. Yeah, she says back, I was thinking maybe…
Brittany's voice trails away and for a second, her eyes dart down the bed to look at their feet, or maybe just to look at somewhere that isn't Santana. But then her eyes come back to meet Santana's, sure.
I always just kind of imagined that for some reason, the year we got engaged, we'd spend Christmas and New Year's down there, so my whole family could meet you. They've wanted to meet you for a long time. I think you'd like it, because it's warm.
She waits for Santana to say something, but for a second Santana can't find her breath. When she can breathe again, Santana manages, Well, what about when we got married, like, where would you want to spend Christmas then?
A spark flashes behind Brittany's eyes, bright and quick as a shooting star.
Santana makes a wish.
When Brittany speaks next, she's breathless. She says, Well, for the first few years as newlyweds, our parents would probably want us around so they could spoil us and load us up with heirlooms and kitchen appliances and stuff, but I think that maybe by our second or third year, we could just have our first Christmas by ourselves.
In our crappy little apartment? Santana asks, her heartbeat going crazy, just imagining, Like with this shitty little tree from a box, Charlie Brown style? And Brittany grins, Totally, her eyes shiny with excitement, like saying it somehow makes it real. Santana grins back at her and Brittany draws a breath, like she's about to blow out candles on a birthday cake.
She makes a wish.
She says, And when we have kids, we probably won't be able to travel anywhere for a little while, so the grandparents would have to come visit us. Santana smiles bigger than she ever has before, maybe. She strokes Brittany's jaw with her thumb, feeling her grin. Yeah, Santana agrees, at least not with a newborn. No way, Jose, Brittany agrees. She pauses and bites her lip, shy again, then says in a little voice, So that's at least two Christmases where we'd have to stay at our place? And even though it's the weirdest time in the world to feel lucky, Santana does. She says, Yup, two Christmases, Mommy. She realizes just then that both of them are crying, tears curling down their smile-round cheeks. Brittany says, That sounds perfect, Mom.
Santana thumbs a tear away from Brittany's face and tries to stop her own, tilting her head back a little to look at the ceiling; they left the lights on the whole time they made love, so she can still see everything perfectly.
God, Brittany blurts, I wish I could've married you.
I wish—, Santana starts to repeat back, but then stops. She draws a breath and says, Hold up, Britty, will you marry me?
Brittany says, Yes, and then, Will you marry me?
Yes, says Santana, and Brittany stares at her like she's waiting for more. There is more. Santana says, So I think we can just be married if we say we're married now, because marriage is usually something that the government approves, but the government only works by consent of the governed, and now everybody's, like—
Brittany cuts her off: So are we married?
Santana smiles, Not yet. Get up, babe, she says, tugging Brittany by the hand to sit up. Brittany does sit up, grinning like they've got a secret. They shuffle off the bed, comforter dragging after them. Santana grabs the top sheet and wraps them both in it, making a weird, two-person toga so they won't get cold. She takes Brittany by the hand and leads her out of the room and down the hallway. They turn into Santana's parents' bedroom, walking very closely together, so as not to disturb the sheets. Santana flips on the lights and leads Brittany to her mother's dresser, atop which sits a lacquered jewelry box. Santana opens the box with one hand, while holding the toga up with the other, as Brittany hovers over her shoulder, breathless.
Inside the box sits a small collection of overturned earring studs and tangled bracelets, along with several rings and a snaking pearl necklace; it all looks like seashells and ship debris strewn across an ocean floor, discarded. For a second, Santana feels like she's four years old and snooping through Mommy's pretty things for dress up accessories again. Her fingers hunt around until she finds what she wants; she plucks up two mismatched rings and holds them out in her palm for Brittany to look at.
That one, Santana says, moving her pinky finger up and down so that the ring resting on her tendon jiggles and makes itself plain to Brittany, is a mother's ring. See my birthstone?
Brittany nods, a small, reverent smile turning up the corners of her mouth.
And that one, says Santana, jiggling the other ring, is my mom's engagement ring that she hasn't worn since my dad got her that second wedding ring upgrade-thing for their anniversary last year because now she can just wear her two wedding rings instead.
For a second, Brittany examines the rings the way she used to examine different flavored candies when Santana offered her first choice when they were kids. After a minute, she says, That one, pointing to the ring with Santana's birthstone in it. Santana smiles and gestures for Brittany to take the engagement ring, then. They both shuffle over and sit on Santana's parents' big, dark bed, their toga slipping down them. They sit sidesaddle, so as to see each other and at least keep the toga in place around their legs. Their knees bump and suddenly they both feel nervous.
I've never sat on your parents' bed before, Brittany blurts.
Santana just laughs, fluttery inside. The room goes quiet, except for the sounds of sirens outside the window and their breathing, quick between them.
A year ago, Santana wouldn't have been able to think of what to say on a night like tonight, in a moment like this one, but now she doesn't even have to think; she just says the only words that matter.
Brittany, you're my true love and I don't know anything except that you make me so happy and that these last few months have been the best time of my whole life. Everything is just better with you around. And I don't know why, but somehow I'm really lucky and I think that we're just meant for each other, you and me. I've never wanted anything else except you to be my wife, okay? You're my wife.
And she slips the birthstone ring onto Brittany's finger. They're both really crying now.
Brittany chokes a little bit on her tears and admires the ring and admires Santana. She leans forward and pushes a sloppy kiss against Santana's lips. Kissing the bride, she mumbles, rolling her eyes at herself for not being able to wait, and they both laugh through their tears. Brittany pulls back a second and takes a deep breath.
Santana, you're my favorite person and you have been ever since I first met you. I've wanted to marry you for forever and I think I even wrote about it in my journal when I was in like the fifth grade, like something about how when I turned sixteen I wouldn't even care if I could drive a car if I could just marry you instead, because I'm pretty sure I thought that sixteen was the same as eighteen or something. But now we're eighteen and I'm going to marry you because there's no one else in the world who I love as much as I love you and there's nowhere else I'd rather be than right here, doing this, with you. And I wouldn't change anything. You're already been my wife in my heart since always. Be my wife for real now.
And she slips the engagement ring onto Santana's finger; it's a little big, but Santana doesn't mind. They kiss again, clutching at each other's faces, cheeks wet with a kind of crying that Santana has never experienced until now.
Are we married now? asks Brittany.
Forever and ever, Santana promises.
Let's go get ice cream, little Missus, Brittany says just when their kisses start to heat the room and they're about to make love on Santana's parents' bed. When Santana laughs full into her mouth, Brittany grins and tickles at Santana's naked ribs. Except let's not shove it in each other's faces, says Brittany, like that was even an option, We're going to have a classy reception. Santana nods and pulls Brittany up off the bed by her hands, Yeah, fucking classy as hell, baby. Brittany slaps Santana's ass.
They leave the sheet behind them and walk hand-in-hand down the stairs. It feels strange to be naked in this part of the house, but no stranger than anything else tonight, really. While Santana rescues the ice cream carton from the crackly depths of the freezer, Brittany stands in front of the sliding glass door and watches wind rip waves up on the pool. It looks like the Florida news, when they have hurricanes, Brittany mutters, crossing her arms over her breasts, not because it's cold, but because.
Let's eat this in the sitting room, says Santana. We can turn the fireplace on.
Eating ice cream in front of the fire is maybe one of the best ideas Santana has ever had, but it's weird that she waited to have it until now, when.
They sit curled in an afghan they stole off the couch, just feet away from the Plexiglas face of the electric hearth, grateful for the heat emanating from the vents, but also for the cold low in their throats and across their jaws; everything balances out.
Santana lies on her belly, feet kicking in the air behind her, blanket draped over her back, and Brittany sits cross-legged, only half-concealed, across from her, the ice cream carton open between them. They keep looking at each other as they eat from their spoons, grinning. They both have epic crazy sex hair going on, but Santana thinks they look awesome.
Would we share a bank account? Brittany quizzes.
Santana nods and takes a lick from her spoon. What's mine is yours, babe.
Brittany smiles, Okay, so do you roll the toothpaste from the end or the middle?
Brittany tries to look serious, but Santana spies her joker face. It's important, San. I hear that's one of the most common things that newlyweds can fight about.
Santana laughs, Tell you what: I'll roll the toothpaste from wherever the hell you want as long as I get to be married to you.
You are married to me.
They both grin like idiots.
And the power goes out.
The first thing that happens is a loud beep sounds as the microwave, oven, televisions, lights, and heater all simultaneously make a last grab for electricity and then falter. The second thing that happens is that they hear a weird buzz and then silence; the fact that the tornado sirens have stopped short tells them that all of Lima has lost power, and not just their house. The third thing that happens is that they both gasp and Brittany drops her spoon, which lands with a dull but sticky thud on the carpet. The fourth thing that happens is that they both think that if Santana's mother were here and if this were any other day but today, she would be mad as hell about Cherry Garcia all over the white Berber. The fifth thing that happens is that they both remember that today is today.
Santana reaches out and touches Brittany's knee. She sits up and says, BrittBritt? You okay?
Yeah, Brittany says, but she sounds a little spooked. Santana knows she sounds spooked, too. Everything is pitch dark now, with the fire abruptly doused, the ceiling lights dead, and that same monolithic blackness from outside encroaching through the windows.
Mom keeps a flashlight in the kitchen, says Santana. Okay, says Brittany, and neither one of them questions the fact that they'll search for it together. For some reason, now that they can't see anything, they feel the need to be clothed, so they take the afghan with them as they rise and wear it haphazardly strewn between them. Again, they hold hands, Brittany following just a little behind Santana. I wish we could see in the dark like cats, Brittany mutters, Except then we probably wouldn't have color vision, either, and that would suck because colors are nice. Santana nods, They are.
Without meaning to, she wonders if she'll ever see colors again.
They walk very, very carefully, barely lifting the soles of their feet from the ground, following the curve of the wall around into the kitchen, where they pause for a second, so that Santana can get her bearings and hopefully steer them to the counter without running into anything, including the center island. It takes a second for them to see recognizable shadows, but once they do, Santana leads Brittany over to the appropriate drawer and opens it.
It's one of those big-ass metal flashlights, a foot long and a couple pounds in weight. Santana accidentally unscrews it before she realizes that she's turning the lens the wrong way and successfully flicks it on. The first thing she illuminates is Brittany, whom she finds squinting at her against the light. Dots of ice cream fleck the skin on Brittany's chest and the underside of her chin, spattered on the reverb when she dropped her spoon, most likely. Santana laughs and says, Britt, you got a thing. She licks the pad of her own thumb and then reaches for Brittany, cleaning away the ice cream residue. It takes a second for Brittany to realize what Santana is doing, but once she does, she laughs and helps her work.
I don't think we'll get the deposit back on your dress, babe, Santana jokes.
Brittany laughs, I told you we should've bought our dresses, San, instead of rented.
Yeah, well, shrugs Santana, we're poor eighteen year olds and we need to save for college.
And for babies, Brittany adds.
Santana smirks as she shines the light in their path and leads Brittany out of the kitchen towards the stairs, not feeling even the least bit guilty that they just left the ice cream to melt on the sitting room carpet. You trying to tell me something, wifey?
Brittany smirks back, Yup, I think you may have knocked me up earlier.
Oh god, now everyone will think it was a shotgun wedding!
San, no violence around the baby.
They both laugh so hard they almost run into a wall. Santana thinks this really wouldn't be bad at all, if.
They stop at the foot of the stairs and Santana shines the beam of light all the way up to the top. Brittany cinches the afghan tighter around them and sets her free hand on the banister. You ready? Santana asks and Brittany just nods.
By the time they get back to Santana's room, the cold has started to set in. Without the heater on to warm the house, the air quickly goes dead and chills. They throw themselves back under Santana's comforter, shivering, and curl their bodies together, holding on tight. For a long while, they just lie like that, their torsos pressed so closely together that their ribs compliment each other, one of Brittany's next to one of Santana's. Brittany hides her hands under Santana's hair for warmth. Santana tangles their feet up in the bedding at the bottom of her bed, trying to keep their toes from freezing. Just when she thinks that maybe Brittany has fallen asleep, Brittany whispers to her through the dark.
I want to make love to my wife.
Her lips find Santana's then and press tenderly to them, gentle enough that Santana almost doesn't feel the kiss. They nuzzle their foreheads together and Santana brushes the hair from Brittany's shoulder. She sits up to kiss the shell of Brittany's ear and the hinge of her jaw. She kisses Brittany's eyebrows and forehead and the faint creases on either side of her mouth that would have become real smile lines someday, if.
They spend more time just kissing than they ever have before, trading kisses back and forth with little puckering pops. By the time they actually touch each other, their whole bodies hum and neither one of them feels cold anymore. And even though Santana knows that the ring on her finger is just something she stole out of her mother's jewelry box and that no priest or Justice of the Peace officiated the ceremony and that she and Brittany live in a state where it will never be legal for them to marry each other anyway, somehow it feels different being with Brittany this time, just knowing that they belong to each other and that no one can take that away from them.
It feels like everything it always should have been.
I just love you, Brittany says, hovering over Santana, and her inflection sounds familiar, like something Santana once told her on another day when it felt like everything was ending. Santana doesn't think about that day, though; she just thinks about her perfect wife and how she wants to spend the rest of their lives together doing exactly this.
They must fall asleep, because the next thing Santana knows, she feels the irrational panic of unexpected waking, twitching herself out of somewhere she didn't even know she'd gone. For a second, she scrambles, reaching frantically behind her and tearing her iPod up from the nightstand where she left it after they came in from their bath. She clicks the touch button and the screen displays the time: 1:07 am.
It takes about another five minutes for Santana to calm down. Briefly, she thinks that maybe it would have been better if she could have just slept through the end of it, but then she thinks about Brittany and how what they just did was a different kind of beautiful than simply goodbye. She smoothes the hair away from Brittany's face.
BrittBritt, she whispers. Britty, baby, wake up. She nuzzles against Brittany's neck and presses kisses to her jaw and throat.
Brittany moans a little and reaches out, her hand finding Santana's under the covers. Momentarily, Santana wonders if maybe Brittany forgot what's happening while she slept, but then Brittany asks, How many more hours? in the sort of even voice that tells Santana that Brittany knows everything important right now.
Brittany never forgets important things.
Three, Santana croaks, smoothing Brittany's hair away from her face.
Brittany just nods, thoughtful. They both think about what they want to do with their time. Brittany sits up, Do you want to play Uno or something? and Santana laughs because why the hell not? She takes the flashlight with her to find the game cards hidden in her desk, and even though she only takes a few steps away from the bed, Brittany follows her closely, keeping constant contact between them. She holds the flashlight up for Santana while Santana digs through her drawers, rustling old class notes, her graphing calculator, and a half dozen tubes of lipgloss aside until she finds what they want.
They hop back up onto the bed and curl the comforter around them. Brittany props the flashlight upright between Santana's pillows and light mushrooms around them, climbing the headboard and walls, casting long shadows and stretches of bright across the blanket mountains on the bed. Santana deals the colored cards.
As they start to play, Santana thinks that one of the one billion things she loves about Brittany is that Brittany already knows all their house rules by heart.
They're halfway through their fourth game when they hear the first impact.
What was that? Brittany says, looking towards the ceiling. Santana hears it, too. It sounds like hail. Brittany's eyes look bright with worry. Isn't this how they said it would start? Santana asks; it's the closest either one of them has come to talking about it out loud yet. Instantly, Santana regrets mentioning it, because now Brittany seems scared. Santana knows she seems scared, too.
When the second and third and fourth plunks ring against the roof, they quickly gather up the cards and jam them back into the box, then toss the box to the floor. They move the flashlight down the bed so it faces them and crawl under the covers, clinging to each other. Now it really feels like they're waiting for something. The individual thuds become a steady rain. Santana imagines that the air outside must be thick and sullied, like how it is when a car kicks up dust speeding along a dirt road. She doesn't like just waiting like this, just waiting for.
For a long while, they just lie together, anxious for something that could come now or later. Santana checks her iPod: 2:23 am. They have about two hours.
The light from the flashlight burns out.
Damn, says Santana. Guess it ran out of batteries, Brittany shrugs. Somehow, talking makes them both feel a little better, so that's what they do—just talk about little them things.
Sometimes you make the cutest little noises when you sleep, Brittany says, stroking Santana's brow. Noises? asks Santana, Like what noises? Brittany shrugs, Like little sighs. You just sound like you're so content. Santana nods, Well, when I'm with you, I am. I always wonder what you're dreaming, Brittany says, and Santana can hear the thoughtful smile in her voice, even though she can't see it through the darkness.
Santana rolls her eyes, because she can just imagine how cute Brittany looks, and says, Probably just about weird-ass stuff. Like spy birds? Brittany asks. Santana laughs, No, that's your dream, sweetheart. She pauses, I dream a lot about school. And swimming pools. Brittany gasps and gives Santana's arm a quick love pat. Get out of town! she says, I dream about swimming pools all the time, too. Santana grins, even though she knows it's goofy. Must be 'cause we're soulmates, she says seriously.
Brittany kisses her then, deep. I really do believe that we are, you and me, she whispers, like it's a secret. I don't know if it's real for other people, but for you and me, it is.
I know, says Santana, and suddenly she's crying again. She knows Brittany can hear the tears in her voice and she wants Brittany to know that they're happy, not scared. She leans forward and kisses Brittany through a smile. Brittany kisses her back and it feels like it used to feel, back before they could say everything that they felt and they had to tell each other secrets through touches in the dark instead. I'm glad it's you, Santana says, voice wet.
Me, too, Brittany says, crying, too.
The clatter on the roof gets louder.
It's Santana's first and last earthquake.
At first, it just feels like someone shifting the bed, but then it feels like when you put down your foot to step onto the last stair, but there isn't one. Santana feels a dip and a slide and can't help but gasp. She clings closer to Brittany; the darkness outside has taken on a necrotic almost green tinge through the window curtains. It sounds like a thousand different drummers are each pounding out a thousand different songs on the roof. The hail drowns out the sounds of their rapid breathing, of their heartbeats running races in their chests below their ribs.
Santana can feel Brittany's heartbeat, though—she can feel the flight in it, even though they lie still.
For the first time since the news broke, Santana allows herself, just for a second, to feel cheated, to wonder why this is happening now and how come they won't get their next fifty or sixty years together, like everybody else on the face of the goddamn planet who ever came before them did. She wants to tell someone that it isn't fair because Brittany deserves every good thing in the world and she's only experienced so very few good things yet. Santana wanted to give Brittany everything, but now.
She pulls Brittany closer to her, so close that she can feel the hot teardrops against Brittany's skin. Something particularly heavy hits the roof and they both jolt. All of the other thuds have sounded like softballs; this one sounds like a lead safe. Brittany's heartbeat speeds up and Santana can't tell which one of them is shaking. She looks for Brittany's eyes through the darkness and finds just the hint of sheen.
Don't be scared, Britty, she cries.
"I love you."