"There's A World Of Shiny People Somewhere Else" by Phwaa. Glee; Santana/Brittany; ~ 8900 words.
"Santana stumbles into her shoulder five years later and she pretends it's what she wanted." Title and Quote from The Weepies; Not Your Year.

I wanted to try a different writing style, and this is what happened.


"Tattered shoes outside your door, clothes all on the floor,
your life feels like the morning after all year long."


Santana stumbles into her shoulder five years later and she pretends it's what she wanted. She looks great.

"It's been a long time-" She starts, and Santana chokes against a mouthful of cold coffee.

It ends. The door chips her ankle and she trips away from her.

It's not what was supposed to happen. It's not what happened.

/

Quinn bites her tongue. Santana can see her cheeks flex.

"Who?" She asks again, mouth closing behind the words.

"Brittany."

"Pierce?"

"No, Spears. The singer. Who the fuck do you think?"

Quinn's quiet. Her eyes drop and fall, blink and fall. A student walks in and Quinn jumps up, points a shaky finger to the door. "Johnny, queue outside with the rest of them."

Santana stands and brushes down her skirt, there's a stray hair clinging to the waist. "It's nothing." She says, standing from Quinn's desk. "I'll ring."

A bell jolts her feet, toes curling at the sound. Santana thought she'd forgotten the sound of high school.

"Santana-" Quinn says, opening her mouth wide and waiting for something. "I…" There's nothing there.

"I have this meeting, Q." She shakes her briefcase as if to prove herself. "Janet already wants my ass."

/

I'll ring you, Santana had said; nail scratching, tapping, wrapping against the wood. I'll write you.

Brittany had shifted in the seat opposite. Eyes shining and sparking and wet. You'll ring.

Yeah.

It's a long time, right? She'd asked, the straw in front bobbing above the rim. A long time, Santana?

Not that long. We can-

Maybe we should just-

I'll ring. I'll ring.

/

"Why's she back in Ohio?" Puck asks, stacking glass on glass on glass. "Thought she got out."

Santana feels sick. The bar's empty.

"She's a journalist." Quinn says. "That paper you managed to buy-"

"I found it." Santana coughs against a mouthful. "I didn't know her article was in it." She's lying. They know she's lying, she didn't expect any of them to believe her.

Quinn shrugs. "Well, she travels, doesn't she?"

"That's cool." Puck says, nodding and pursing his lips. "Not being funny, right, but that is one cool fucking job, isn't it? Writing shit and traveling the world."

Santana rolls her eyes and spins twice on her stool. "Not that cool if it brings you back to Lima, is it?"

Quinn stares at her, glasses seconds away from plummeting off the cliff of her nose. "I think," she says slowly, "we should meet up."

There's humming from behind the counter and Puck winks at them both. "That'd be-"

"Embarrassing." Santana narrows her eyes. "Have you two forgotten we're still in Lima?" Quinn roles her eyes, clucking her tongue like she always does. "Shit, we're the only ones that didn't get out of this black hole. Jesus it's- it's fucking humiliating."

Puck swallows hard and turns to crash bottles against the back.

"We did well for ourselves." Quinn frowns. "We did fine."

/

"Nothing for five years and now twice in one week." Brittany says when Santana steps up to the queue. Her eyes are bauble blue and her smile curls up against her cheek.

Santana nods and slides her cell into her blazer pocket. "Guess there's a shortage of Starbucks in Lima then." It's tight, cold.

The bulb hanging in the corner flickers. Brittany's eyes are warm. "Are you staying? We could grab a table."

She's shaking her head before the question registers. "My boss already hates me." She shrugs, biting her lip apologetically. "Why add fuel to the flame, right?"

Brittany laughs and reaches a hand forward hesitantly, dropping it back before it grazes her elbow. "I bet she doesn't hate you, Santana."

"She thinks I tried it on with her husband at the Christmas party." There's a giggle opposite and Santana has to turn away. "It was awkward and messy and she's desperate to fire me."

There's a pause and Brittany shuffles round to face Santana again. "Did you-" Brittany starts between a bitten lip.

"I'm gay, Brittany."

She shakes her head. "No, I know. I totally know." A cough, it's more like a squeak. "I just-"

"No, I didn't." Santana says, smiling friendly and shrugging her left shoulder.

The table six steps away laugh. A cup clashes against the coffee machine and a spoon clatters to the floor. The man behind sneezes. Brittany's still smiling at her, a twinkle in her eyes Santana thought would've died out a long time ago. Hers did.

Santana coughs, her tongue darting to the corner of her mouth and she looks up at Brittany apprehensively. "Is there anyone-?"

"Yeah. Yes." Brittany nods, scratching her right temple. "There's someone. Back home."

The queue is short and they've stopped moving. It's expected, of course. Everyone liked Brittany. Everyone likes Brittany. Someone steps around them to find the counter. Santana swallows. "Is it a boy or…?"

"He's a photographer."

"Oh." A phone buzzes; she doesn't feel a vibration but reaches inside her pocket anyway. There could be a meeting, she should get back. She should get away. " I should…" She whispers, and coughs under her breath before twisting a finger behind her towards the door.

Brittany's eyebrows curl. "You didn't get your coffee."

She breathes and nods. "Yeah." It's not really what she was meant to say and it takes her three long steps away to realize Brittany probably wasn't asking a question.

The door chips her ankle. Again, again, again.

/

Artie asked me to prom.

The phone had nearly slipped from Santana's fist. I-

I went with no one last year. I think I want to say yes.

/

"One of the dads keeps hitting on me." Quinn snickers, pushing her glasses up. Puck flinches. "He's sweet."

Puck says, "That's, like, harassment or whatever," and Santana feels sorry for him.

Quinn eyes the counter, shrugging. "He's a single-parent. If he wasn't related to one of my students I might've-"

"Shut up, Q." Santana says. "No you wouldn't."

An old guy three stools away calls Puck over for another drink and Quinn shifts on her seat. "I bought Rachel's Christmas Album."

Santana empties her glass. "It's shit."

"Yeah." She smirks. "I ran into Brittany." Quinn says, and Santana closes her eyes and tries to remember how much she's drank. If it's safe enough to drive home. She can't remember where she put her keys. "She looks good, she seems good."

"Yeah?" Santana bites her lip and smiles. Quinn looks pained but still stares at her. "That's great."

"I told her to join us sometime." Quinn looks towards the door and back. Puck stands between them behind the bar, absently dabbing a cloth. "Here. At the bar."

"She's not staying, Quinn. She's leaving-"

"But, I mean, whilst she's here, Santana, we can make her feel welcome." Quinn's eyes narrow, she's a teacher everywhere nowadays. She's so used to being in charge. Santana doesn't like it. "We were all friends."

"Bullshit."

"Cool." Puck grapples for Santana's empty glass. "We should have a reunion. Everyone."

Puck's still hung up on the past. Puck wants to go back to William McKinley High and his glory days and the only time he was ever successful at anything. Santana's sick of them both.

/

Math is easy this year. Brittany had said, sniffing against the receiver. Math is-

You're redoing. You've already done it, Britt, that's why it's easier.

No, silly, she'd giggled. It's easier because Artie's teaching me too.

Santana had breathed and closed her eyes and tried not to hide her face in the pillow below and scream. She'd wondered if Brittany had ever needed her at all.

/

Santana stares at the yellow comforters. Janet sends her to the worst clients, playing favorites is her favorite game. She's been in the business longer than Dan; she shouldn't be in this meeting.

"What's the target audience?" She asks, because she's pretty sure no one will buy comforters the color of sick.

The lady across from her sniffs, her nose is running and the tissues are in the middle of the table. Santana wants to push them forward and suggest she takes one or two or five. "Children." She says, looking at the two men on either side. They look out of their depth. "Maybe teenagers."

Santana winces. "Okay, well in my experience the best way to advertise comforters to children is to show them playing on it. With any other age group, I would suggest having people snuggled up in bed."

The chair across from her creaks. This business won't go far, Dan gets all the big companies and she gets small-town products getting arrogant. "Can I ask what your experience actually is in this area?"

Santana rolls her eyes and watches the woman's nostrils flare and shake as she snivels against dribble.

/

I love you. You know that? Do you know that?

Yes.

Santana had frowned. But you-

Artie's been reading my articles in The Muckraker. He found a college with a good journalism course.

But I thought you were coming here. Our plan was-

Artie thinks I should do this. Writing's awesome. I could do that, you know, San?

Yeah. I know.

/

Brittany's smiling, staring at her. Santana regrets opening her mouth. "I have yellow comforters at home." She says.

"Of-fucking-course you do." She mutters, her breath isn't quiet enough. Her heart is thud-thudding too loudly in her chest.

Quinn coughs. "I used to date a guy with The Muppets comforter. Said it was his sister's or something."

Puck blushes and Santana turns in the booth to stare at him. "Oh, gross."

His eyes widen. "It wasn't me."

Quinn frowns, turning to Santana with daggers. "I've never dated him, Santana."

They lapse into silence and Santana stares down into her glass. She can feel Brittany's eyes, tracing her cheek, mouth, neck. Santana's a minute away from melting.

"I've missed you." Brittany whispers and Santana's head jolts up just in time to see Brittany scanning around the booth. "Finn fixed my car a few weeks ago and I had to interview Rachel last year but-"

"It's been a fucking age." Puck nods, downing a beer. "Too long. We should have a reunion."

"That'd be awesome." Brittany grins as Quinn laughs and rolls her eyes.

"No, I don't think so." Santana says, staring at Brittany a little too hard. She blinks and looks at Puck instead. "We've moved on, now. We all have our own lives." There's a lump in the back of her throat that wants out. "We probably wouldn't even know how to get along anymore."

Brittany swallows, gulps, breathes something that sounds like a laugh or a scream. She's quiet when she speaks. "That's not true."

Quinn's staring at the table and she looks up between them. "I'd love to see Tina again, catch up with Sam."

"I hear Mike's a professional choreographer." Puck says, pursing his lips. Santana thinks he looks like a girl.

Brittany nods excitedly and taps Puck's arm. "Totally. Me and Artie went to see one of his shows."

Santana wants to role her eyes, but she makes a big deal of checking for the time instead. "Early morning." She says, shrugging and shifting in the booth. "Some meeting with a calendar company that want to sell pictures of cute kittens or something."

Brittany stands when she does. Santana only just manages to stop the eye-roll, but it's so hard she grunts instead. Quinn tugs her back just as her hand is pushing at the glass in the door.

"What are you doing?" She hisses, her eyes low and lips firm. If Santana were her student and three-years-old with a teacher complex she'd be cowering in the corner and moaning back tears. "She's making an effort."

She closes her eyes, sees black and falls. When she opens them, Quinn looks beyond disappointed and stalks off.

The door misses her ankle and she turns to watch it swing back with a nasty smash.

/

Santana had already decided it. She'd asked anyway.

Do you think there's any point anymore? She'd whispered down the phone, staring at the picture on her desk.

Brittany sniffled.

Britt. Do you?

There's always a point in me and you, San.

Silence had hung; the breath between them wispy and line quiet. Santana's eyes had fallen like clamps promising last warnings. The air had been cold, a droplet smashed the window. Brittany hadn't breathed and Santana was waiting for it.

I'm sorry. She'd said. I am sorry, Brittany.

The line had crashed dead. Santana ended the call and a lot more.

/

His ring clinks against the handle as he holds the door open. "One day you'll take me up on the offer." He says, with his perfectly practiced eyebrow raise.

Santana snorts at how pathetic he looks as she steps out to the parking lot. "Actually, you know what, Dan?" She pouts up at him with her hand fishing for her keys in her purse. "Get a sex change and a divorce and then I'll consider having a bit of fun."

Dan shrugs. "Looks like you'll be having a bit of fun tonight anyway." He nods towards a yellow car in the corner of the lot with a blonde leaning against it, staring and smiling at them. It doesn't click until far too late.

Something somewhere cracks. She'd forgotten about this life, the one she'd always wanted. Brittany wasn't meant to move away, find someone else and forget about Lima. Santana wasn't meant to care. She isn't supposed to care about a child's dream about a high school fling. Nothing happened.

She ignores Dan's whistling and turns to find her own car instead. Brittany follows her and manages to catch up just as Santana had hoped to disappear into the drivers seat.

"Quinn told me where you worked." She says with a grin still plastered against her face. "I was kind of around here, so I thought-"

"Okay." Santana nods and smiles and attempts to get in the car. "Thanks for stopping by."

"No- Wait." Brittany pulls at Santana's arm until she's standing again, wedged between cars. Santana almost forgets it's the first time Brittany's touched her in five years. Almost. Her eyes flicker closed for a second and she hopes Brittany doesn't notice.

Santana shakes her head. "Brittany-"

"No, San. We can be friends. We can-" She stutters against her words and something changes in her face. Brittany didn't get angry. Santana doesn't want to see Brittany get angry. "Why can't we just be friends for the short time I'm here? Then, after, we can just go back to-"

"Because, Brittany," she frowns and tries to lower her voice, looking over to make sure Dan's left. She doesn't look back at Brittany. "Because I'm doing fine now. I'm finally doing alright again, and I won't let you fuck this life up too."

It shouldn't be a shock. It's not like it all wasn't common knowledge and Quinn doesn't have to convince the rest of the glee club that Santana's finally, finally, finally moved on whenever they try to get in touch. Santana hasn't even been mean, so she ignores the hurt look on Brittany's face.

"It was five years ago-"

"Well, I fucking know that, don't I, Brittany?" She shakes her head, more at herself than anything else, and takes in a shaky breath. Brittany looks confused and awkward, staring at their reflection in her car window. Santana needs to get it cleaned. "I'm sorry, okay? I just…" She swallows. "I have a report in for tomorrow, I have to…"

Brittany looks her up and down. "Of course you do."

She's grown up so much. Brittany's the person Santana always promised her she'd one day get to be. It hurts that she wasn't there for the transformation.

Brittany hasn't moved when Santana manages to turn the engine on. Brittany hasn't moved when Santana drives away.

/

"She's still hot though." Puck smirks. Santana closes her eyes and drops her head against the counter. She's halfway to counting to five to cool down- three, two- when Puck opens his mouth again. "If she didn't have that photo-dude, I'd totally-"

"Do you want a slap, Noah?" Quinn hisses, drumming the tips of her fingers against the bar. "Because half the class hadn't learnt their lines today, and I don't mind letting out all by frustration on you tonight."

Santana almost claps him when he doesn't make some sleazy joke. Puck's a pussy when faced with teacher Quinn.

"Blaine's in a musical, apparently." Quinn says, her face back to neutral. "Kurt's designing the costumes."

Santana sniggers. "Bet it's awkward as fuck after their break-up." She hates that she knows about their lives. She hates that she can't stop asking Quinn about the next update from Mercedes.

Quinn shrugs and Puck jogs over to serve a hot redhead at the bar.

/

Brittany had looked up at her when she'd opened the door, a finger already reaching to run against the frame.

You're home, she'd whispered, blinking around the blackness of the night.

Mama's birthday, Santana had nodded. I go back tomorrow.

You have tonight?

Santana had swallowed. It had been six weeks since Santana had hung up. Brittany's eyes had been dark and red.

Brittany- She'd murmured, just before Brittany had climbed through the door and pressed her against the wall.

Just tonight. Brittany said, mouth open and tongue grazing Santana's.

Santana had melted. Her knees had buckled, cracked and broken.

/

"I'm sorry." Brittany says as soon as the door is opened. Santana tries not to wince. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I'm sorry."

Santana keeps her grip firm against the handle. "What-"

"I have time now, to make it better. I have time. And I don't know when I'll be back in Lima, but I'm here now." Brittany rubs a hand across her cheek, scratching her temple. "Santana, I'm here now."

And because Santana doesn't trust herself, doesn't trust the way her fingers slide against the wood of the door, doesn't trust the way her eyes watch Brittany's lips as they shape around the words, Santana turns away and leaves Brittany to close the door behind her.

/

It's over. It's over. It's over.

It's not what was supposed to happen. It's not what happened.

/

Santana's downed her fourth can when Brittany finally stops staring at her. Brittany's still on her first glass of orange.

Her apartment's messy and she doesn't make an effort to look embarrassed. Chandler's kissing Monica, Rachel and Phoebe on screen. Friends will never stop rerunning on TV.

"I miss this." Brittany says, turning again to look at Santana, shifting until her knees skim Santana's thigh. "Just watching stuff with you, just- … San?"

Santana hums, twisting her head round when Brittany tugs a finger beneath her chin.

"You haven't changed." She whispers. Santana's head feels heavy and her eyes drop. Brittany's thumb reaches to brush the skin below her lip, eyeing her own movements. "You look the same, you feel-"

"Five years older." Santana tries, but the words scratch her neck and they come out husky and rough.

She watches Brittany's eyes close, mouth open to take in a breath. Santana tries not to remember car seats and cheerio uniforms and foggy windows.

"Tell me it doesn't count," Brittany murmurs, pupils adjusting, "like you used to. Tell me the plumbing's different or we're just friends talking real close or…" She trails off, breathing heavy as her thumb brushes closer, closer, closer to Santana's lip. "San, just tell me something."

Santana used to dream about this. Another go, another chance, another year, another life. Santana used to dream of Brittany wanting her again. After three years Quinn stopped asking why she took those pills. If she still needed them to close her eyes.

She's about to tell Brittany they're five years older. Santana doesn't need excuses anymore, and Brittany wouldn't believe them anyway. She's about to tell Brittany that she wouldn't have it in her not to count it, but her mouth is dry and Brittany's pleading across from her. If Quinn were here she'd slap them both for being selfish. If Puck were here he'd be filming.

Brittany's already pulling her forward with a palm against her jaw by the time Santana has enough courage to refuse. She tastes peppermint and orange breath before Brittany presses their mouths together. Her head rocks and she's back to being a teenager desperate to let it be enough.

Santana feels herself falling. She sees black before she's pulling, pushing Brittany forward, away. When her mouth opens against Brittany's, she thinks they stay that way for a while. Mouth open and breathing into each other as Brittany's nose nuzzles the space below her eye.

She hears the moan before she feels it. Brittany pushes her tongue into Santana's mouth and she collapses against the cushions when it brushes against her own. Her heart starts to throb. Brittany follows her, pushing her down.

/

Blonde and blue and long, long legs had seemed to follow her around.

Santana hadn't realized she'd stumbled into a college filled with broken heart inducers.

Seven pints past drunk, her roommate had pushed her towards a girl dancing in the middle of the room.

Their eyes hadn't met. Their skin hadn't touched and Santana had still been clutching a glass in the corner. She'd been sick anyway.

/

Santana had forgotten Brittany's kisses.

The way her tongue traces around lips, flicks against Santana's before darting out. She hasn't had to groan and push up, follow another mouth like this in forever. Brittany's not smiling.

She's not smiling when she drops her nose to Santana's jaw, presses her mouth against Santana's mouth and she's not smiling when she sucks against the skin lining her collarbone. Santana's missed her more than she'll let herself believe, and she has to hold back a groan when she feels the faint drag of Brittany's fingers creeping beneath her shirt.

Her breathing is too loud. Brittany's humming against her skin, licking against her neck and pressing kisses to her jaw, her bottom lip, inside her mouth like she can't quite get enough. Like it's going to end soon and they'll be left with the taste on their tongue and the bruises against their skin.

Brittany's fingers shake against her ribs and she grinds down against Santana's thigh.

She can't let this end.

/

You need to eat. Quinn had said. You silly bitch, you need to eat.

I am. She'd groaned, pressing her cell against her ear angrily.

It had been her fourth phone of the month. They had a nasty habit of finding themselves smashed against the wall.

Quinn had sighed dramatically. Santana had thought about her course and laughed at the irony.

Brittany's not coming-

Quinn, I know, okay? I never fucking asked her to come back, did I?

Then shit, Santana. Why the hell aren't you moving on?

/

Brittany's already crawling down her body, pushing at tights and skirts and panties. Her breathing is heavy and thick and shaky. Santana can hear it seeping into the shadows in the room. She doesn't want to breath, talk, ruin the spell.

She's going to pass out.

Brittany's staring at her panties, rolling her forehead against Santana's abdomen. She bucks her hips accidentally and Brittany releases a breathy laugh. "God," she says, low and raspy. "I've missed you."

Her thumbs drag her panties down and Brittany looks up for half a second before she's pulling at Santana's waist and pressing an open-mouthed kiss against her clit.

She sees black and falls. There's a moan on the tip of her tongue but she presses her head back and arches instead. There's a name running through her head, over and over and over, but she concentrates on the fingers pushing inside her instead.

Brittany's humming, running her tongue round her clit, curling her finger. Santana can see her eyes pinched closed, can feel her fingers from her free hand wrapping around a knee and her nails making welts along her skin.

/

They ran into Tina. Quinn had jumped into her arms and Santana had tripped away to the bread aisle a few steps away.

Good, great. She'd heard Quinn laugh, turned to see her nodding and clasping Tina's arm.

They were talking quietly, under their breath. Santana hadn't cared for glee club gossip.

Oh. Quinn had said, she'd turned to glance at Santana with a guilty frown. No, they're not together anymore.

Santana had died.

/

Brittany hovers over her when she thinks it's nearly over. Fingers curling and thrusting fast. Santana stares up and breathes against Brittany's cheek, she feels her eyes cloud over and watches Brittany's face crumble before dropping to Santana's neck.

They don't speak. Santana tries not to make a sound, but her whimpers feel amplified and Brittany's breathing echoes.

When Brittany's thumb brushes past her clit, fingers twisting and curling, she groans and pushes her face into Brittany's hair. When she comes, Brittany presses her lips to Santana's jaw and breathes her in, doesn't move until Santana struggles to sit up.

/

Quinn and Santana moved back to Lima, Puck never left.

They'd found his bar and found themselves there every night.

Who would've thought, he'd said one night, holding a glass up and out. It'd be us three, together.

Santana had remembered another three. A closer three. Santana had remembered Quinn and Brittany and her.

Maybe we should have a reunion. All of us. He'd suggested, a twinkle in his eye. Puck was stuck in the past.

They're not coming back. Santana had whispered, shaking her head. She's not coming back.

/

"I'm out of orange." She says, coughing. Her voice is still strained and croaky. "Do you drink apple?"

"Santana-"

Brittany's following her. Santana's hand slips against the fridge. "I could make coffee-"

"Santana-"

"There's always water, so I could just-"

"Stop it." Brittany says, louder, louder, louder. Santana turns and stares, the fridge swinging shut. "Can't we just talk? I mean-… your skirt's inside out."

She gulps, wondering if she drank all the beers. The tap drips behind her and Brittany's not wearing any socks. Santana doesn't remember telling her she could take off her shoes or socks. Maybe they're by the door.

"We didn't do anything wrong." Brittany whispers. Santana always found it easy to convince Brittany of anything, Brittany's having a hard time trying it herself. "We didn't-… did we?"

Santana shrugs. "You have someone. Back home."

Brittany gulps, Santana watches the lump descend and disappear. Her eyes trace Santana's neck, across her lips, up her nose and settle on her eyes. "Not like you." She whispers. "He's not really like you though."

"He's someone." She says.

They're not sixteen and lying anymore. They're not seventeen and pretending, eighteen and hiding, nineteen and breaking. Santana wants to breath, she thinks she might have a box of cigars stuffed beneath her board games.

Brittany's eyes tear up. Santana used to drop everything to stop it, Santana used to spend her existence making Brittany happy, stopping any tears. She looks away.

"He won't know, Brittany." She says and winces when she spies Brittany's relief. "We're- I drank too much." It's a lie. She's not nearly as drunk as she needs to be. She's not drunk at all.

"You did?" Brittany asks and Santana nods. She's only mildly disappointed Brittany doesn't recognize her lies anymore. "Will you-" She starts, bites her lip and tries again. "Will you remember this?"

Santana doesn't reply, and just stares. She'll never forget a single moment with Brittany. Words hang, hide, hover against her tongue and she swallows them back and blinks lazily. Santana doesn't reply, she doesn't need to. Brittany closes her eyes and floats away.

/

Quinn has the decency to sound guilty. "She asked where you live."

"And you told her."

There's rustling on the other side of the line. "I thought she wanted to send you flowers."

"You thought that, did you, Fabray?" Santana forces a mean laugh. "I guess I just assumed there wasn't a lot of thinking involved."

"Santana-"

"She's leaving Quinn." Santana whispers. "Why are you trying to push this?"

/

Her Internet favorites had every single article.

I've never read any, she'd lied and Quinn hadn't questioned it. She'd turned to Puck instead.

She's a good writer. Quinn said. You should look her up.

Puck had nodded.

There's an author's picture on one, Quinn had carried on. She looks beautiful. Still.

Santana had ignored them. She'd found the picture months ago, had cried at the screen and laughed at how pathetic she was.

/

Brittany pushes her against the door when she huffs and swings it shut. Santana doesn't speak and waits for Brittany's breathing to slow as she frowns across from her.

"You're not picking up my calls." She says, smoothing out her own eyebrows. "You're-…Did Quinn give me the wrong number? Did you ask her to-?"

"You're leaving." Santana mutters, quietly at first. "You're leaving." Louder, louder, louder. She doesn't ask when. She doesn't want to know when. The clock ticks above them and she disappears a little more with every second.

Brittany shakes her head, like it's not true, and then her face starts to collapse. Her eyes are shiny with a beautiful blue Santana pretends not to remember. It was five years ago. They shouldn't be like this anymore, they shouldn't care.

"It's fine." Santana whispers. "It was a nice catch-up and maybe we'll see each other again." There's a pinching in her chest, a stinging in her eyes. It's from the chopped onion waiting in the kitchen. "I'll come to your wedding when the guy back home proposes and-"

"Why are you doing this, like…?" Brittany's breath is shaky and cold. "Do you really not feel this… thing? Maybe it really is just me, but… I'm being silly. I'm being," she nods, "silly."

Santana bites her lip and looks away, to the table on her left and the bowl with the keys and spare change and notes. She hears footsteps and then feels Brittany's forehead rest against her cheek, her hand brushes forward to bunch Santana's shirt. She has to clench her mouth closed not to react to Brittany's teeth moving to bite her jaw.

"In another five years." Brittany sighs; kissing the mark she just left. "We might not remember each other."

Santana thinks about another five years and she starts to panic. Maybe this is all she'll be left with, a taste in her mouth so long ago forgotten she won't be able to remember if Brittany ever existed. A scar the shape of a heart webbing from her chest and bruising the places Brittany might have touched.

She sees black and falls. She might've been able to live if Brittany hadn't come back. She might've gotten to survive a little longer.

/

Quinn had looked relieved. Santana thought that's what had hurt the most.

As much as I don't want to walk in on that again, she'd sniggered, I'm glad you're finally moving-

Don't say it, Q. Santana had scowled at her; she'd been suffocating with the pity from a train-wreck.

She'd shrugged. I was just going to say-

I know. But just because I'm not sleeping with the City, doesn't mean I'm not over her, okay?

Quinn had looked at the table awkwardly. The silence had been embarrassing.

So, you're over her?

Yeah, yes. She'd breathed. It was a fucking high school fling.

/

Brittany starts it. Santana doesn't stop it.

Starts pressing her lips to Santana's skin until she finds her mouth and she starts walking them back, back, back until Santana's pushing open her bedroom door.

Maybe it's the fear spreading through her bones until she's sure she'll never get the opportunity to taste Brittany again, feel her come undone around Santana's fingers. Maybe it's muscle memory finally taking over and offering the chance to hear Brittany breathe her name or murmur curses in a fragile whisper.

When she drops them onto the bed, Santana's fingers reach to tug Brittany's top off, leaning back down to Brittany's whimpering mouth as she throws it to the floor. Santana feels her lip being bitten and dragged as her hands travel down to run across bare skin, moaning into Brittany's mouth when her fingers reach the waistband of her jeans.

She stops to take a breath before she explodes. Brittany reaches up and cups her cheek so she can look into her eyes; the pad of her thumb feels delicate as it brushes back and forth, up and down. "Santana," she says, voice deliciously raspy, and Santana looks away and tries not to slam her eyelids shut. "I don't think I can forget you."

Brittany's neck smells like raspberries and soap when Santana's head pushes into it. Brittany's palm is still clutching her cheek.

She only realizes she's been playing with the jean button when they pop open. She's pushing her hand down, under panties and gasping at wetness before she really knows what she's doing. Brittany starts to pant and her body arches up into Santana, nails curling against her cheek.

Santana thinks it's what she's been waiting for her whole life, grinding down and rubbing her fingers around Brittany's clit and sliding in the wetness. Brittany's gasping for breath underneath her whilst she pushes down into Santana's hand.

"Oh, god." She's murmuring, over and over and over. "San, you're… I'm…"

Her teeth pull at a soft patch on Brittany's neck and she thinks about marking her, the way she used before they'd go on double dates, just so she could stare at the bruise the whole way through dinner and know she did that. Brittany was hers. The photographer back home would have to stutter around her excuse.

Brittany almost screams when Santana pushes two fingers in, pulling out straight away just to watch Brittany's eyes roll back. She wonders how many other people have done this to Brittany in the last five years, how many people have heard their name heavy and breathy from Brittany's mouth. It twists her chest, makes her head dig into Brittany's forehead.

"Don't stop, don't…-" Her eyes are pressed shut, and Santana's not sure she could ever stop.

Her fingers are pumping in, curling, twisting out, pumping in, curling, and twisting out. Faster, faster, faster. Santana's not seen anyone this beautiful beneath her for five years and she's trying to cherish it, remember it, but it's ending too soon. Brittany's pulling her mouth against hers, pushing her tongue into a dirty kiss and jerking against her hand, fingers, palm.

It's ending too soon and Santana groans as she feels Brittany tighten and whimper against her lips.

Brittany's eyes are bright blue and lost when she opens them.

/

Puck had been angry because it was Quinn's fifth date with the same guy.

Her, she'd told him, pointing a finger. It had been a brunette that slightly resembled Rachel Berry. Sleep with her.

Dude, Puck had grinned. You have to go for the friend then. We'll both pull tonight.

The girl had been blonde, tall with legs as long as- No, I'm good. I'm tired anyway, and I-

Something had flashed against Puck's face, and she'd been so scared she'd been caught out.

His head had dropped to his shoulder to study her. Still, Lopez? I thought-

It's not like that, Puck. She'd swallowed and reached for his drink. Fuck off. I'm tired. I'm tired.

/

"You're beautiful." Brittany whispers, pulling a finger down the length of Santana's nose. "Why aren't you with someone?"

There's an answer somewhere in her throat, but it's not the time. It's not the time. She shrugs instead and blows a blonde hair away from her mouth. "Busy." She says.

Brittany drops her finger down from her nose and lands it on Santana's top lip. She wants to open her mouth and catch it. Brittany traces the outline, around the curve and down to her bottom lip.

"This used to be my favorite time with you." She says, breath hot against Santana's cheek and teeth grazing her ear. "After sex, lying with you in quiet. You always looked so pretty and sleepy."

Santana kisses the finger dancing along her lips and hums. She used to go to sleep and expect this, wake up and expect nothing.

"We used to love each other." Brittany's saying through wobbly words. "Really love, love each other. Do you remember?"

Her neck won't nod so she turns and stares at Brittany instead, watches her eyes search everywhere for the answers she wants. "I don't remember much." Santana mumbles, and winces after she says it. It doesn't make sense. It's embarrassing, it's what a fucking nut-case would say but she can't give Brittany that. She can't.

"Sometimes," Brittany's watching her finger travel down Santana's neck, between her breasts and along her stomach. "I think I'll never not love you."

There's a name being scrawled across her abdomen. Marked, labeled and forever bruised. She'll remember this, when her eyes are heavy and head a little dizzy, she'll remember the imprint and scratch Brittany left as a nail traced her name over and over and over against flushed skin.

In those moments, she'll remember Brittany and nothing else.

"San, I'm going soon." Brittany whispers, sniffling against her pillow. The material will smell like her for days. "They want the article in. They said I have-"

"Don't tell me." Santana says, shaking her head and inching away, away, away. "Don't tell me when you go. Just-… Don't say goodbye or leave a message. I don't want to know."

One minute she'll be there and the next she won't. One night she'll leave and never come back.

Brittany leans up on an elbow, stares down at Santana's face with droplets hanging onto her lashes. "Is it weird," she croaks, "that I still think about you everyday. Almost all the time."

Santana bites her lip and looks away. "It's just first love."

"Or forever love."

"First loves are the hardest to forget." Santana says, turning to the side of the bed and the clothes on the floor. Like a disastrous dot-to-dot. "It's fine, it's normal."

Brittany leans forward, trying to catch Santana's eyes and falling back when she fails. "We're not normal." She sighs and snuffles against sticky sheets.

/

A lesbian, ay? Dan had jeered. That's hot stuff.

Santana had rolled her eyes and watched him struggle to choose an appropriate desktop for his new work computer.

Janet had sent her to scare the newbie and show him around.

My cousin's into that too, he'd winked, swiveling around in his chair. What's your type?

Flashes of blonde hair, long legs, a smile she'd spent nights memorizing and duck wallpaper had gunned past her eyes.

I'm not into girls related to little bitches like you, I'm afraid, Danny, She'd shrugged.

Santana Lopez, he'd read, leaning on his chair to catch her nameplate. I like you. Shit taste aside.

/

"Lopez, you have a meeting with a French company planning on selling yogurt or something." Janet reads the sheet in front of them all aloud. "Dan and Ryan, you're still working with Pepsi, and I'll be monitoring Jennifer."

She surveys the group, squinting across as Santana curls each paper corner until they're flicking up and round. She smirks when she catches Janet staring. Paul from the floor above starts to rip lines along the edges.

"I want the kitchen posters done this week, we're on a time-limit and Carole wants the film crew out and adverts filmed in the month." She stops again, points a perfectly carved finger at Hillary. "That's you're priority, Hilary, so get it done."

Hilary nods awkwardly. Santana catches Dan's eye and he mimes a gun against his temple, shooting and dying.

"Zack and Chloe, you need to finish those graphics you've been working on for about a year, because I'm not assigning you elsewhere until they're finally done. And one of you will need to work with Santana after she's done the report on the yogurt people." She stops and rolls her eyes, stares pointedly at an empty chair. "And for God's sake, will someone, preferably not Hilary, please tell Jack I'm going to fire his ass if he sleeps in one more time."

/

"Fucking lemonade yogurt." She huffs, tapping a nail against her glass. "Where the fuck did they think that was going to sell?"

Quinn rolls her eyes and rests her chin against her palm. "So, a good meeting?"

Santana shrugs, looking up at the clock above the bar. She wonders, briefly, if Brittany's gone. If she's leaving and passing the Lima road signs now. But she's not drunk enough for that, so she calls Puck over and throws money at him without giving an order.

Quinn's studying her, like she's another troublesome student making fun of Shakespeare again, and Santana only flinches once under her gaze. The clock's ticking too loudly and the music is too quiet.

"Are we not going to mention Brittany?" She asks, and Puck stills behind the counter. Santana jolts at the name and pretends her heart is thud-thudding to a regular tune.

"What about her?" She shrugs as casually as possible.

Quinn purses her lips and Puck's still just a statue with a drink half-full slipping past his palm. "I gave her your work address." She says. "Your actual address and your phone number. She hasn't gotten in touch then?"

Santana rolls her eyes. Brittany could be far away by now and her eyes slip shut at the thought.

"She sent flowers." Santana says, and raises her eyebrow at Quinn, waiting for a challenge.

/

Puck takes her home. She drank too much.

Her sheets smell like raspberries and soap.

She spies the pills on her bedside table and rolls over.

Brittany didn't come. Brittany's far, far away.

/

"You're fired." She says to Jack in passing, and he rolls his eyes and smoothes down his tie.

Dan nods and leans back in his seat to stare at Jack, says, "open up a burger stall or something," and earns a pen thrown in his face.

Santana tries to smile. Tries to laugh. Nothing comes.

/

Puck shakes his head. "I'm not serving you tonight."

She climbs off her stool and heads straight to the door. Quinn shouts her name over and over and over.

She has liquor at home.

/

When she falls asleep she sees blonde and blue and pale skin.

She bites her tongue not to cry. It's just like every other night for the past five years.

/

"I want lemons falling down the screen everywhere and then exploding in a yogurt pot. Then, with blue bubbly writing it will just say," the woman spreads her hands out in front, grinning widely, "in need of some aid, try lemon-aid…yogurt."

Santana wants to die.

/

When she opens the door, her knees give way and she only just manages to stand upright. "I thought," she says, biting her lip and blinking. "I thought you'd gone."

Brittany shakes her head. "I'm going." She whispers, like it's a secret. "Tomorrow morning I'm…" She nods.

Santana scratches a nail against the door and tries not to close her eyes. She doesn't want to miss this, these last few moments. Brittany looks beautiful, blonde hair falling below her shoulders and shiny blue eyes searching across from her.

She coughs to make sure she doesn't choke up. "I didn't want to know."

Brittany just stares, opens her mouth, closes it and goes back to running her eyes along Santana's cheeks, mouth, eyes. Santana feels the burn.

She wants to go back in time. To cheerio uniforms and locked pinkies. To Friday nights and Saturday mornings. To not-quite dates and unlimited breadsticks. Maybe she could've done something different, said a few more words or sang a few more songs.

It doesn't feel like she's done enough.

"I'll miss you." Santana says when Brittany's eyebrows start to squirm and her lips start to jut out. "I'll miss you." She says, when Brittany's eyes threaten tears no one is ready for.

The door doesn't make a sound when it presses shut.

/

Puck had found her pills and Quinn had found the laptop with the articles and author pictures.

She had just been trying to get to sleep.

Puck had rung the ambulance and Quinn had stroked her hair.

It's been almost five years now, Quinn had said. Santana hadn't heard a thing.

/

The knock jerks her body and her skin drowns in goose bumps. She should dry her eyes, stand from the kitchen corner and stop shaking. Stop rocking back and forth, back and forth. She should answer the door. Her eyes hurt.

She coughs, smoothes her shirt, her skirt, her tights. Her finger comes back black and wet as she drags it beneath her eyes. The door knocks again, harder, louder. Her legs are shaky and her feet ache.

The door is opened a fraction before something flashes. There's lips pressed against her mouth before she can register what's going on and she barely manages to sniff before she's pressing the body back against the closed door. Brittany whimpers into her mouth as she smoothes her hands over Santana's hair, pulling her forward in the process.

"I can't-" Brittany tries to say, pulling back and surging forward. "I can't, I can't-"

Santana nods, kissing Brittany's bottom lip, top lip. "It's okay." She whispers, her palm pressed to Brittany's neck and thumb brushing the muscles moving along her jaw. "I know."

She doesn't dare stop, drags her mouth down her neck as Brittany's head presses back into the door and her mouth hangs open. Santana feels fingers brushing the skin beneath her shirt, pulling her against Brittany's waist and nails scratching.

"I have tonight." Brittany croaks when she's got her hands on each of Santana's cheeks, lifting her head up and searching her eyes. Santana swallows and Brittany's face contorts to stop any tears. "We have tonight."

She can't breathe. It's not enough. It'll never be enough.

/

They hadn't talked about it.

Quinn had slept on the couch for three weeks and Puck would ring if she didn't turn up at the bar.

Santana had caught Quinn counting her pills, one night. She hadn't even looked guilty.

Maybe you should just get in touch with her, she'd suggested. You're not moving on, so just-

Quinn, I was just trying to get to sleep.

She had always excelled at pretending, convincing herself everything was fine in a crumbling building.

/

Santana wants to take her time. Presses Brittany to the bed and hovers over her, staring at the smile beneath her. Dropping kisses along her jaw, fingers running through blonde hair. Brittany's pulling at her shirt, twisting buttons and bunching it beneath her bra, craning her neck for Santana's lips.

Pushing a thigh between Brittany's legs, Santana takes the opportunity to pull the top beneath her off before shrugging out of her own shirt. Brittany giggles into her neck when she leans down again, and Santana wants to melt at the sound.

"The sheets smell like you." Brittany smiles, wrapping a piece of Santana's hair behind her ear. Santana can only smell Brittany, they haven't smelt like home before now. "I love the smell of you."

Santana stares down, watches Brittany's smile waver and disappear. Something stabs her throat, rolls a lump up, up and out. Her mouth opens without consent. "I love you." She whispers and immediately feels hot drops hit her cheeks. Brittany's thumb wipes them away, she's shaking her head when Santana pushes down against her and hides between Brittany's neck and collarbone.

"Hey," she hears. Brittany's pulling her up again. "Hey, San, look at me." Santana hums and searches down until she finds Brittany's wet eyes. "I do too." She murmurs, nodding. "I love you."

Santana can't stand it, the ache, the throb, the pulse dying from her wrists.

/

The shop had one left and she'd emptied her purse to get it.

Brittany's written an article in this, she'd told Quinn and Puck at the bar, throwing the paper on the counter.

Outwardly discussing her would convince them, Santana had thought.

Puck had looked impressed, like the plan had worked. Quinn reached to read it.

I got it for the movie reviews and just found her article.

Quinn hadn't believed her.

/

When Brittany comes, around Santana's mouth and fingers, she tugs her up so she can press a kiss to Santana's temple.

"I'll come back." She whispers, nuzzling her cheek. "I'll come back for you, okay?"

Santana doesn't believe her but squeezes closer, breathes Brittany's body in and entwines their fingers.

She licks her lips and tastes Brittany everywhere.

/

Tina and Mike broke up, Quinn had said. Mercedes said it was a long time coming.

Santana had shrugged and said, Sucks.

Now every glee couple has split. Puck had shook his head. I think it's fucking devastating.

Santana had thought that maybe they were all destined to end anyway.

Maybe she'd never stood a chance.

/

Brittany smiles. It breaks Santana's heart.

Her head drops to settle against Brittany's on the same pillow. "Why don't I get this?"

Brittany looks confused, her fingers play with the hair at the back of Santana's neck. "Get what?" She asks.

"This. You." Santana says, pushes forward until their foreheads are touching. "What does that guy back home have that I haven't? Why does he get to have sex with you, wake up with you, come home from work to you? Why him and not me?"

There's not an answer in the world that Santana wants to hear. Brittany bites her lip, strokes a thumb around Santana's ear.

Brittany doesn't answer the question, and instead says, "You know, five years is enough time for someone to move on, love someone else and forget about everyone before."

Santana suddenly has the urge to be sick, her skin goes cold.

"But I still wake up and think you'll be there, sometimes. I still forget everyone else isn't just a silly soup starter before the main meat meal." Brittany frowns as her eyes well up. She looks straight at Santana, blinking fast. "Is that normal?"

She nods, pushing forward until her mouth is sucking Brittany's pout away, licking until Brittany's jaw is opening and Santana's climbing on top. She groans against Brittany's tongue, and leans back, smoothing the blush from the cheeks beneath her.

"We're special." She says. "We fell in love deeper than normal when we were younger." Santana offers as an explanation. She remembers seeing her best friend, naked and flushed beneath her, when she was sixteen. She remembers never wanting it to end.

Brittany closes her eyes, and Santana feels her shiver when she drops down and their bare breasts drag together. Her lips write words along Brittany's neck. Things she can't say aloud without forever ruining herself. It wouldn't matter; Brittany ruined her a long time ago.

"I'm going to come back." Brittany whispers, pushing Santana's hair behind her ears. "I'm coming back so we can be together."

Santana thinks about the promises she used to make, the ones she used to break. Brittany's someone else, she has to remind herself, Brittany's braver and better and stronger. She's weak. She'll break to pieces if she has to watch this life slip away, this temporary life she's always wanted.

"Don't say goodbye." Santana mumbles and rubs her tears against Brittany's skin. "Don't wake me up to watch you leave."

/

I was going to marry her, Santana had slurred. I wanted to marry her.

Puck had been clenching his cheeks, holding her head against his shoulder.

Quinn had been staring down at the table, counting the bottles and wincing.

Q, did you know that? She'd asked.

Quinn had nodded; her eyes had started to tear up. Yeah, I knew.

Santana had closed her eyes to the same face as always, always, always and mumbled, She would've said yes.

/

The sheets are cold and she doesn't dare open her eyes. They're cold and there's nothing warm beside her, no one pressing against her. The smell of raspberries and soap is distant.

Brittany said she was coming back. Brittany is coming back. She just needs to wait, and then in a few days, weeks, years she won't be so lonely anymore. She might've survived if Brittany hadn't come back.

In another five years, she remembers hearing, when Brittany's mouth had been hot and raw against her jaw, we might not remember each other.

There's a clock above her bed. With every second she feels herself starting to disappear.

Santana closes her eyes, sees black and falls.

/

Santana had stumbled into her shoulder five years later and she'd pretended it was what she'd wanted. She'd looked great.

/

Fin.