'Ollie, Ollie, oxen free': a phrase used in children's games, which is generally used to indicate that people who are hiding (in a game of hide and seek, for example) can safely come out into the open.
The full phrase is "Ollie, Ollie, oxen free. All come home." How perfect is that? This is inspired by that idea. This story is born out my desire to write more Pezberry and my beloved friend Santitaomily requesting that it is fluffier next time. (It's still not romance, I'm sorry, but it's getting closer.)
Personally, I believe Rachel would have strong opinions about this given how she grew up and I think it's a shame we didn't get a scene where she spoke to Finn about it.
Rachel watched from the shadows unsure whether to approach. She told herself that her hesitance was just a desire to shelter from the rain that had steadily begun to pound the pavement. In reality though, the girl knew she was hiding, biding her time. Rachel had one shot at getting the girl to open up. She had no desire to bear the brunt of Santana's rage if she chose to shoot the messenger, which if rushed and cornered, would be her precise reaction. So Rachel waited. There was no other choice. She couldn't walk away seeing and knowing what she did. Turning a blind eye or glossing over issues was common in Glee Club, but this time the problem wouldn't be fixed no matter how many solos she considered performing. The girl tried to sing to herself now, hoping that the lyrics could keep her company. It usually worked. However, Santana's anguish as she raced from the auditorium was etched in her memory as freshly as it had been hours before. The sound overwhelmed everything. The redness of Finn's check had faded, he was more shocked than hurt anyway, but the choked noise of the Latina's sobs had not.
Following her had been a spur of the moment decision; Rachel had just slipped away amongst the chaos, not questioning the lack of a second glance that she spared for her boyfriend. She had to admit that Finn ought to understand the consequences of what he had done, unintentionally or not, and the strike had certainly delivered that. Words can hurt, and the weight of his would be felt for a long time. Rachel reasoned that the cheerleader, for her all her faults didn't deserve this. Outing was never justified; her daddy's example had taught her that. The brunette's heart clenched painfully in her chest as she considered her father's own coming out story, it had been so hard for him to being forced out of the closet and he didn't have the additional pressure of a state wide commercial announcing his homosexuality to all and sundry. He almost didn't make it through the turmoil of that period in his life and that scared Rachel more than anything. Finn didn't understand this, his comprehension was limited to the high school environment, and because the experience had ultimately worked out well for Kurt, he was blinkered. Unfortunately he failed to realise that not all parents were like Burt Hummel, and not everybody was as accepting as New Directions.
Santana was strong, but if this was thing that broke her then the brunette would never forgive herself for not doing something. That was why she loitered in the dark, her gaze never wavering from the mustang's outline. Taking a deep breath, she decided the time was right and knocked lightly on the window. The sight that greeted her as she peered in was one that she expected, but it didn't make it any easier to witness.
Santana was utterly broken, hunched over the steering wheel. She wasn't crying but the rivulets of mascara indicated that the tears hadn't long ceased. The girl jumped, wiping her eyes hastily. The smudged blackness clung to her cheeks with defiant stubbornness, but Santana jutted her chin out proudly nonetheless. "What do you want Berry?" She snarled. The sound carried from behind the barrier of glass as Rachel mimed an action to imply the rolling down of the window. The cheerleader refused, turning away.
"Please Santana, I just want to talk." Rachel replied raising her voice so that there was no doubt that the other girl heard every word. In response, the car door swung open forcefully, startling Rachel and causing her to leap backwards in alarm.
"If you've come to defend your precious boyfriend, you can save your breath and fuck off now." She muttered. The words were angry, but lacked any of the usual fire. Similarly, the usual nicknames that Santana favoured when insulting Finn or Rachel herself, were missing, which she took as a bad sign. The brunette noted that mostly the girl before her looked tired, as though she was defeated.
"Actually, my presence here is rather to do the opposite. I wanted to apologise. Finn was wrong to do what he did. I'm so sorry, Santana."
Santana sighed. "It's not your fault Berry. Jeez, just because that tongue of his spends 95% of the time in your mouth, doesn't mean that you have any control over it. You're not responsible."
Rachel cringed but nevertheless persevered. She was cheered by Santana's antagonism in fact, because it meant that the girl in all her despair was still reachable. "Yes, well, I just wanted to tell you that I don't condone his behaviour, it was unforgivable and-"
Santana silenced Rachel with a small shake of her head. "I get it, now you've soothed your conscience, you can go."
The petite brunette scowled. "That's not…I'm on your side. I came to see if you were alright, no other agenda."
"Oh please, everybody looks out for themselves in this school, pure and simple, you expect me to believe that you're concerned for me? You hate me, and it's not even the phony kind of dislike that you reserve for Q, I'm genuinely horrible to you."
"Things have changed." Rachel retorted softly.
"Understatement of the century." Santana muttered bitterly. Her face contorted as she fought to blink back fresh tears. "My whole world is going to change." She sounded so sad and lost that Rachel reached for her hand without thinking. She squeezed it reassuringly, ignoring the way the Latina balked at the unexpected contact. It was a simple gesture but it proved to be more effective than countless words. After a moment, Rachel felt the other girl relax slightly, her shoulders no longer stiffened as she became more at ease with the feel of the brunette's hand in hers. Eventually the cheerleader reached across with her other hand and unlocked the passenger door. She glanced at Rachel and the girl slipped in wordlessly, with a small smile.
Santana made a show of fixing her make-up, averting her eyes, but nonetheless her gaze flickered constantly to Rachel's reflection anxiously. It didn't go unnoticed and the brunette quickly reached out her hand again, placing it on the Latina's trembling knee. The silence was lengthening and although it wasn't uncomfortable or tense, Rachel felt the need to break it and remind the cheerleader that she was still there. In spite of their skin being anchored together, the other girl still understandably sought reassurance. "Tell me to shut up if this sounds stupid, but is there anything I can do? Maybe my dads' could offer to…or I could talk to your parents, I don't know, I just want to help... moral support or something." The words didn't come out the way she wanted them to but she hoped Santana would appreciate the sentiments. Although, it was tricky, she was trying.
"No offense, but the last thing I need is your or your dads' wading in with rainbow flags. I think it's best if I handle this myself." Rachel nodded; it had been a long-shot anyway. "Thanks though, you know, for offering and being here."
"I didn't think you should be alone. At first I assumed that Brittany would be with you, but when she wasn't…well I wasn't even thinking, I just reacted, to be honest."
At the mention of her girlfriend Santana frowned. Guilt bloomed in her brown eyes. "I lost her on purpose, I just needed to run. I had no idea that anyone would be so persistent, especially not you." She locked eyes with Rachel, a faint smirk gracing her features. "I can't believe you genuinely followed me, maybe you should join the Troubletones, since you'd make such a good spy." Rachel laughed at the absurdity of this. It felt good; the dark cloud hanging over the car seemed to lift momentarily. "Double agent Berry." Santana snorted, fully abandoning herself to mirth. Rachel conceded it was the best distraction and played along.
"I'll think about it." She giggled.
"No you won't."
"You're right, I won't." The laughter was disrupted by the unmistakable sound of the brunette's ringtone. She cut off her cell phone without checking who was calling. She could guess that the caller was likely Finn, who she had no desire to speak to, or one of her dads checking up on her since it was now fully dark, thanks in part to the threatening storm, and getting late. Either way she wasn't about to abandon the other girl in her time of need and she switched off the phone so that the disturbance wouldn't happen again.
Santana watched her bemused. "It's alright you know, you can go."
"I'm not going to just leave you here." Rachel stated resolutely.
"It's cool, go home. Rachel." Santana started the engine to prove that her intent was more than empty words. The girl beamed at the use of her first name in a way that wasn't meant to ridicule her. The cheerleader was being nice and she had to resist the urge to ruin this amazing moment by opening her mouth. Instead, she contented herself by pulling the Latina into a quick hug. It wasn't half as awkward as she thought it would be. The girl finally understood the other side of the Cheerio that Brittany always made passing references to. Rachel decided that she liked the true version of Santana Lopez.
"You should go home too." The Latina bit her lip, thinking. Evidently she was turning over all possible outcomes in her mind and she wasn't satisfied by the majority of them.
"I don't know if I'm ready for that."
Rachel pulled her closer, whispering into her ear. "If anybody can do this, it's you. Go home, talk to your parents. Everything will be okay, trust me. Ollie Ollie oxen free." She stepped out of the car without another word, leaving Santana to absorb her words and hopefully heed them, but before she could close the door the other girl's faltering voice called her back.
"What if it's not?" All her deepest, darkest fears were summed up in that one question. Rachel could tell that these doubts had driven her and moulded her behaviour for an untold amount of time. Her secret was the root of everything and now it wasn't hers to keep anymore. She had lost control of her life and was being forced to suffer her biggest nightmare made real, subjected to the monster under her bed roaming free. There wasn't much that the brunette could say to appease Santana; she could only lend her support. She had no power to influence the overcome and no way of predicting what would happen next, only hope that things would work out. She believed that this girl could weather the storm even if she, herself, was sceptical of her own endurance.
Rachel leant back into the car meeting the other girl's eye for a final time. "Then come and find me. I mean it; I'm here for you. I don't care if you call me 10 minutes from now or show up on my doorstep and 3am, okay? You aren't alone." Santana nodded, visibly touched and the brunette took it as her cue to go, closing the door on the cheerleader and her idling engine. She allowed herself one more backwards glance. "Good luck, Santana." She whispered under her breath.