Shoot Me with Your Rubber Bullets (Cause You'll be Happier Without Me)

Summary: "To be honest? I got as far as 'You are cordially invited to celebrate the wedding of Brittany Susan Pierce' before my mind shut down that first time."

Author's Note: Canon up until season three. And the title is from A Fine Frenzy's song Happier.

They say that everything happens for a reason.

They say if you think about something for long enough that you can make it happen, and that people are rewarded for the good things they do. They say that the scariest things are the most rewarding, and that only you have the power to truly bring yourself down.

Those may well be true, but not everything they say is.

They say that time heals all wounds and that things will get easier as time goes by. That's a lie. It's been seven years, nearly eight, and nothing has healed over, my skin is still rubbed raw and bloody. They say you never really miss something until it's gone. Also a lie, because I think I managed to miss her long before she was gone, I missed her when she was standing right beside me.

And they say when you're missing someone they're probably feeling the same thing.


The proof is in the piece of paper I'm holding in my hand.

What they don't say is what you're supposed to do when you're holding a post-it note that is basically inviting you to a wedding, a wedding for the love of your life and someone that isn't you.

Quinn waited two weeks after she got her invitation to pass my invitation along to me, post-it and all:

Quinn, I know you're still in contact with Santana. If you wouldn't mind, I'd like this to get to her, the invitation I mean. She doesn't have to come, but I'd at least like her to have the choice. Thanks. - Brittany

That was what was written in her familiar loopy handwriting, hastily scrawled on a green post-it stuck on the wedding invitation addressed to me. I hadn't so much as spoken to Brittany in years, but apparently I was still worth inviting to the wedding.

Given the choice, I'm not sure if I would have gone or not. But I wasn't really given a choice.

Inside the envelope with the invitation and the post-it was a letter from Quinn, insisting that since she had gone to the trouble of mailing the invitation all the way to me from where she was in Ethiopia, I had better damn well be going to the wedding.

Quinn had somehow managed to get herself involved in a children's aid charity after graduation, which eventually led to her living in Ethiopia for the last four months, building homes and schools or whatever the fuck Quinn's charity did with themselves. As annoying as it was having my best friend only in town for half the year, spending the other half in one African country or another, it really was a good fit for her. She was compassionate, wanted to help people, and was really good with kids. So getting paid to go live on the other side of the world and give little safari kids hope? Totally up her alley.

Meanwhile I worked at some shitty desk-job all day dealing with idiot people and their idiot financial problems. Quinn and I technically shared the apartment, but she's hardly home, so I had the rundown little place to myself most of the time. Which was both good and bad when I was feeling lonely, and that happened often.

Until passing along the wedding invitation, Quinn had never told me Brittany was seeing someone, much less engaged and planning a wedding. I knew they still spoke on the phone; actually, I knew Quinn was fairly close with almost all of our high school friends. But there were rules now. Quinn new bringing up Brittany – usually when we were arguing, which happened often, usually about my life choices and how Quinn didn't approve – was useless. Quinn also knew that our old friends could know she was in contact with me, but that I didn't want to see them. Meaning they didn't know we roomed together. As far as they knew, Quinn and I exchanged an email here or there, enough to know the other was still alive. That was it.

It hadn't been an immediate process, cutting myself off from them. And it hadn't been entirely intentional either, at least not in the beginning. It had started off slow; senior year wasn't as great as we thought it would be, ending with the group becoming fractured and no longer a big happy family by the end. Everyone scattered after that, so it wasn't like I was the only one moving across the country to go to school. Then the little things came, forgetting to answer texts or emails here and there, not returning a call during exam weeks. By the time I moved to another part of the country without telling any of them where I was going and changing my phone number without a heads-up, our old friends were hardly trying to contact me anyway.

So I wasn't trying to contact them. But from what I got from Quinn, most of them weren't interested in contacting me either. It wasn't like they asked her do you know where Santana lives or can you give me her number? It was usually more of a I hear you still talk with her, guess that means she's doing okay and isn't dead and left it at that.

They're all doing fine with their lives. They don't need me around to seep in and pull them into my darkness.

Aside from Quinn, there was one other person I was still in contact with. Sam lived about a half hour away from me, and we hung out for drinks often enough. I don't think Quinn knew he lived so close by, she never mentioned him. Though, I don't know how close with everyone he was. I knew he still talked with Kurt, but that was it. When he left after junior year and didn't come back most of us lost touch with him. I don't think Quinn had seen him at all since that last summer before senior year. But if he was still in contact with anyone, he never mentioned running into me to any of our old friends.

And I mean running into me in the most literal sense. As in, he was in town for work, picking up something at the store, and walked right into me in the frozen meat section.

Sam was the one who told me Brittany was engaged, when the two of us went out for beers a week after running into each other. That was six months ago, and Brittany had been engaged for two months by that point.

Either Quinn hadn't known about the engagement – unlikely – or hadn't wanted to tell me. But I don't blame her for that. Brittany is a touchy subject, even now, seven years later, and Quinn has always been the one to get the blunt of my anger. If she thought not telling me would somehow spare me pain, then I can't blame her.

It isn't her fault I'm a mess.

From what Sam's told me, Brittany met her fiancé at work. She was part of a group building a new recreation center – which would, among other things, teach dance lessons to troubled youth – and he was their finance manager. Sam has never met him, but figured he's a nice enough guy. Smart, does well for himself, plays softball: a good man.

Brittany fell in love with him, so he must be doing something right.

I know Quinn and Sam are both worried about me. I'm not exactly the easiest person to deal with, but it does mean something to me that they care enough to pick me up when I'm drunk as fuck and to be a punching bag when I'm hurting. I'm a wreck, a shadow of who I was, but they're both trying.

But really, I'm grateful they only just found out the other knows about me. If they had known for longer they would have tried to meet up and talk about my destructive behaviour. Maybe even try to team up in confronting me about it.

So what if I still haven't moved on, and my only way to ease the pain is by getting wasted beyond belief and falling into bed with leggy blonds with sweet smiles and kind words?

She broke me, she left, and I'm still trying to fill the hole in my heart using nameless people that remind me of her.

What I'm doing isn't healthy. But I'm past the point where I care anymore. I go to work at my shitty job and come home to my shitty apartment. I get lonely, I drink. I go out, I drink. Quinn and Sam take turns babysitting and picking up the pieces.

It's routine by this point, really.

I've never gotten over her, and I'm too damaged for anyone besides Quinn and Sam to try and break down my walls and work their way into my life. I'm a disaster, and Quinn says I'm hardly living at this point, simply going through the motions, but she's hardly around to criticize anymore.

Sometimes I wonder if that's why she does the over-seas work now, why she switched from the promotional work here to the hands-on work on the other side of the globe; because she cares about me and tries to help me, but can only stand to be around me for small lengths of time.

It's why Sam and I only see each other once a month; because as worried as he is, I'm a poison, and he can't let me destroy him the way I've destroyed myself.

Quinn waited two weeks to mail me the invite. When I did get it, I stuffed it in a drawer for three weeks and went out drinking every night.

Quinn's letter had been very clear, I was going to the wedding. It was time for me to move on with my life and stop destroying myself. I had to either confront her and do something about it, or let Brittany go. I couldn't keep living like this.

It was too hard to try and call the number on the invite, confirming I'd be there.

And I tired, I did. When I finally took it out of the drawer and set it in the center of my kitchen table I tried calling every day for nearly two weeks.

I never got more than half way through the number before the pain of remembering everything that had happened stopped me from dialing the rest.

I never RSVP'd, but I figured if I never confirmed that I'm going, Quinn would just take me as her plus-one. Like she said, I was going, it didn't matter how.

I'm not happy about that, but there's nothing I can do about it at this point.

Quinn didn't call since sending the letter, but I figured she's busy saving babies from rabid lions or whatever. She said when she'd be back in her letter – a week before the wedding – and that must have been enough for her.

I think Quinn's given up on me.

Exactly seven weeks after Brittany initially sent out her wedding invitations I showed Sam mine. We were sitting at my kitchen table and he was trying to fix the phone I'd smashed the night before.

I had been drunk, but the phone smashing had had nothing to do with Brittany and everything to do with the asshole that nearly ran me over on my way home.

He fixed it, my phone, and I rewarded him by dropping a beer into his hand and the envelope in his lap.

He picked it up and must have recognized what it was immediately. "Santana."

"I know."

"Santana, she's getting married."

"I know."

"She's getting married to someone that isn't you."

"Sam, I know, okay? I know."

"Are you going to go?"

"And do what, wish her congratulations on marrying someone else? Tell her I'm happy for her? Tell her I'm glad that she-"

Quinn had chosen that moment to walk in the door.

"You could have answered your phone, you know," she said when she saw me, slipping off her shoes and coat, setting her bags down just inside the door. "I wouldn't have had to take a taxi."

"Her phone broke," Sam said, holding it up for Quinn to see.

As far as I knew, this was the first time they were seeing each other since Sam moved away after we lost Nationals in New York years and years ago.

"Sam. Um. Hi?" She looked between me and him, clearly confused. But her confusion melted into a warm smile, "Sorry," she said, running forward and giving him a long hug, "It's good to see you. I'm just a little-"


"Jet-lagged, but that too. What are you doing here?"

I sipped at my own beer, waiting for them to acknowledge that I was in the room with them.

"Fixing her phone," he reminded easily. "What are you doing here?"

"Uh, I live here."

They both turned to me, waiting for an explanation. "Sam, this is Quinn, my roommate when she isn't on the other side of the world. Quinn, this is Sam, we ran into each other a few months ago, we've been hanging out."

"Good to see you still know how to make friends while I'm gone," she said. Her eyes were soft, but her words were flat.

Sam held up the invitation, and the three of us talked. Or rather, they talked, and I was forced to listen. I was hardly able to get a word in edgewise, between the two of them. Go after her and you still love her and there's still time and you know she still loves you and at least talk to her, try to work things out and Santana, it doesn't matter how long it's been, if she still loves you she'll come back to you.

It's because of that discussion that I'm in town three days early for her wedding.

It's because of that discussion that I'm about to see her, and this will either end like a cheesy romantic comedy with us kissing on her front steps as the credits roll, or it will destroy me.

Manhattan at ten o'clock at night is cold.

Sitting on the concrete steps of Brittany's brownstone after it has rained all day is cold.

Doing this for two hours in a flimsy jacket? Really cold.

It took me ten minutes to work up the courage to ring the bell, only to find she wasn't home. So I left, and had walked for about seven minutes before sighing and turning back. I'd come all this way. I didn't have a plan, didn't know what to say, and didn't know what to expect, but I was already here, so I figured I may as well wait it out.

Plus Sam and Quinn would either kill me, or give up on me for good. And then I'd really be alone. As annoying as they are sometimes, they're the only friends I have now.

The air isn't that cold, no more than usual for a crisp spring night. But the steps underneath me are. The hard, sharp cold seeps up from the steps, into my thighs and spreads to the rest of my body. It trickles down and pools near my feet, claws and climbs up my back, and digs its icy grip into my chest. She isn't even here yet, and already it's hard to breath.

Time passes and I'm reduced to watching the traffic go by. Rowdy teens, late night business men, and evening joggers pass by on the street. I count nine different people taking their dogs for a walk. Cars drive past too, loud and gritty, disturbing the night air.

I sit on the top of the stoop, feet resting flat on the step below. My knees are pressed tight together, with my elbows resting on them and my chin in my hands. I don't move a whole lot, only every so often to check the time on my phone and ignore a where are you? text from Quinn.

The coldness seeps in and I let it. I've already grown friends with the darkness, why not let the cold in too?

I can hear her before I see her. Her shoes click on the pavement and she talks on the phone while she walks, her voice happy and carefree. The light above her door is on, bathing me in brightness, but as she walks along the sidewalk, passing her neighbour's steps, she doesn't notice where I sit motionless.

"I promise I won't, okay?" she laughs. "Just trust me, I-"

It isn't until she reaches her own walkway and looks up that she notices me. I shift, dropping my hands down to rest on the cold stone near my legs, watching her watch me.

Her whole body stills, lips parted and eyes wide. Her hand still hovers near her ear. She looks at me, a look stronger than I've ever seen her give me, and she blinks hard once. She glances to both sides, confused, looking at her neighbours doors, and then looks back at me. Looks into me, through me.

"…Mom, I… I have to call you back."

She closes the phone, hand slowly lowering to drop it into her coat pocket. Then she just stands there, impossibly still.

I stand, slowly making my way down the steps. When I reach the ground I freeze, unsure what to do. She stands at the other end of her walk, just out of arm's reach. Her face is void of emotion, utterly blank and unreadable to me. She doesn't look curious, or surprised, or angry. She just stands there and waits, eyes locked with mine.

Realizing I need to say something, I force my mouth to open, but the most I can muster is a thick, heavy breath. It probably would have been a good idea to have had at least an idea of what I was going to say to her. But every thought I may have had while sitting waiting for her flees as soon as I see her.

She gives a little sigh, shoulders dropping slightly and rocks back on her heels a bit, like she isn't sure what to do with me.

This was a stupid idea on my part. I shouldn't have let Sam and Quinn convince me to come here, to try and talk with her. Because I don't know what to say. I have no idea where to begin even, where to start.

We aren't the same people anymore, and I think I've been too afraid to admit it.

"You cut your hair," I blurt out, the words quick and fast and tripping out of my mouth in their haste to greet her. They don't sound light, they sound heavy, stomping through the stale air around us, beating against my ears and trampling on my tongue.

Brittany blinks and shakes her head slightly, as if to fight off a daze. "Yeah. I did."

"It looks…"

I don't really have a single word to sum up how it looks. It's short, shorter than I've ever seen her wear. It cuts off just above shoulders, and she has thin, wispy bangs again. It suits her. I miss her the way I remember her, but the new look suits her. She looks… Cute? Older? More care-free?

She looks down at the ground between us for a long moment, steeling herself, before she looks up again at me. There's no smile on her lips, no light in her eyes, but her face seems softer now, not quite as emotionless as it was before. If only slightly.

"Hey, Santana," she greets, because I seem to have forgotten how.

"Hi," I whisper, so light I wonder if she even hears.

"What are you doing here?"

Her words aren't harsh, but they're enough to make my heart begin to quiver inside my chest, to tremble and shake with fear because although the words aren't mean, they aren't like how I remember.

Her voice isn't the same for me anymore.

She speaks to me like I'm a stranger, like I'm someone she pities, like someone she's only met in passing. There's nothing soft about her words, no lingering gentle touch of reassurance. Her words are as blank as the look on her face.

"I…" I pause, trying to remember. There is a reason I'm here. There's a reason I came back. There's a reason my heart is trembling inside my body, that I'm standing here and not fleeing. "I got your invitation."

"Quinn gave it to you?"

I nod.

"And?" When I don't answer she presses, the edge in her voice shaving my top layer of skin; not cutting deep, but still hurting. "You never answered. Are you coming?"

My head nods again, a quick, jerky movement. "Quinn's making me."

Right away I know the words are wrong. So, so wrong. Something flashes across her face, quick and sharp and bitter. Maybe before, when I still knew her, I'd have been able to read it. But now it moves too fast for me.

I'm not accustomed to this, to not being able to read her. The quiver in my chest moves up into my throat.

"Quinn's making you," she bites out.

I flinch, wrapping my arms around myself, and try to explain. "I wanted to see you, but I… I was afraid you wouldn't want to see me." It doesn't sound right to my ears, but she doesn't give me enough time to explain further.

"If I didn't want to see you, I wouldn't have sent the invitation."

That's not true though. It doesn't matter what happened between us, that I broke and she left. It isn't that she wanted to see me. We were still friends at one point. Best friends, who swore they'd never stop. Best friends who wove friendship bracelets and held hands while ears were pierced and never once forgot a birthday. It doesn't matter if we fell in love and then fell apart.

We were friends once, I used to mean something to Brittany. That's why she invited me. Because it was the right thing to do.

"Brittany-" my voice cracks and it makes my fingers clench into fists against my ribs. I can't stand how weak she's making me feel. How exposed and vulnerable and raw.

"If you wanted to see me, you would have shown up for the wedding. What are you doing here, Santana?"

Never have I hated the sound of my own name more than I do now. I can hear the bitterness and anger in the way she says it, but I can also hear how she's given up on me.

Everyone's given up on me.

I still don't know whether I gave up a long time ago, or if I'm simply been holding onto something that doesn't exist anymore.

"Britt," I try again, and I see her flinch at the nickname.

I'm not allowed to do that anymore.

That hurts. That hurts a lot more than I expect. That one little movement, the shortest tensing of her body, and it feels like she's carved me open. My arms squeeze tighter around my middle, trying to hold everything in place, to keep my insides from spilling out and onto her walkway, dirtying it with my darkness.

"Why are you here?" she asks again, not as rough. She's trying to keep from getting angry with me for showing up like this.

Why can't I be angry with her? She's clearly upset with me, but why can't I feel the same way? We both had our hearts broken, and I may have hurt her more than I could ever forgive myself for, but she's the one who walked away.

"Are you happy?" I ask, looking at her shoulder, not her eyes. I speak to where her hair meets her coat.

"Yes," she says, and the words are so easy and so true that my eyes have to slide back to her. She's smiling at me, not to hurt me, but in a way she can't help. She probably isn't even aware she's doing it, the slight lift in her eyebrows, the little shine in her eye, the curl in her lip. "I am. I'm getting married in three days, to someone I love. I'm happy."

I can feel the blood seeping from between my arms, oozing out no matter how hard I try to keep it pressed inside me.

"Brian and I are happy, Santana."

"Brian?" I ask.

She frowns, eyes narrowing in the slightest confusion at me. "Brian. My fiancé. I thought you got the invitation." Her eyes narrow further, "Did you even read it?"

To be honest? I got as far as You are cordially invited to celebrate the wedding of Brittany Susan Pierce before my mind shut down that first time. The first time I opened the invitation, and every time thereafter, I got as far as her name, written in her beautiful scrawl, before the pain pitched inside me and blocked me from seeing the rest of what was written.


She's frustrated with me now, I can see. "So, what? This is it then? This is your attempt at stopping me from marrying him?"

I don't have to nod. She knows what this is as much as I do.

"You're doing a pretty feeble job, Santana. I've read better in cheap romance novels."

She hates – hated, I don't know her any more – romance novels. She used to love romance and fairy tales and happy endings, but only in movies. She was never one for a romance book. She told me once it was because you can't skip scenes in books. In movies, if it gets sad you can skip over to when it's happy again. In books, you never know how many pages to turn. You might turn too many and lose track of what's going on, or not turn enough and only find more unhappiness.

"Brittany. Brittany, please. I…"

"Don't say you love me," she says, her voice careful and warning, but not sharp.

"What can I say then?"

"I don't know. What can you say, Santana?" Each time she says my full name it stings harder inside, knowing I'm just a formality now. "It's been eight years, what is there left to say?"

No. No, she's wrong.


Her eyes flash at me correcting her. "I can count," she says lowly. "It's been eight years. Eight years since we walked away. Eight years since I've seen or heard from you, since you cut me from your life."

"No," I say softly. "It's been seven years, eleven months and two days."

Again, something moves across her face, but I can't read it. It's been so long, and we've both changed, I don't know her well enough anymore to decipher what her features mean.

It hurts, because I used to be able to read her better than anyone.

She sighs, "Eight years, Santana."

"But it isn't," I whisper. "Not fully."

Her next words come out clipped and short. "You came back here to argue about how long it's been."

The blood seeps past my arms, and I can feel my organs pressing against them now too. My liver and kidneys bump against my arms, trying to fall from inside me. There's nothing left for them inside, my body dying with each new word she says, but I try to hold them all inside anyway. My pancreas slips past and lands on the pavement, wet and sticky in the pool of my leaking blood.

I whimper, but force myself to keep talking. "I came back here because I never stopped caring about you." I want to say love, but she's asked me not to. And as much as I want to hurt her, because she hurt me, I can't.

"That's the whole problem, Santana. You cared. You cared, and you knew it, but you did nothing about it." Her words are even and clear, like she's explaining to a toddler what they've done wrong. Her words aren't harsh, not meant to cause tears, but slow and laced with meaning.

"I tried," I say, clamping down on everything inside me to keep from crying. My voice wavers wetly, but I hold the tears back. "You know I tried. I tried for you, Brittany."

"No, Santana. I'm the one that tried. I tried to be okay with everything, I tried to go slow, I tried to give you time. I tried. You were scared. You couldn't admit your feelings, not the way I needed you to. You were so desperate, so terrified of anyone finding out about us, that you shut down. You broke me, Santana, so I left. I tried. You didn't, not enough."

She takes a single step closer and I hold my breath.

"You say you loved me, and maybe you did, in some way. But you were too ashamed of that love, Santana. You locked it away, deep down inside yourself where no one could reach it, not even me. You were ashamed that you loved me."

"No," I plead with her. I take a step forward and she moves back. She's in control of the distance we keep now. "No, Britt," I try, looking right into her eyes and feeling the first of my tears begin to spill over, "I was never ashamed of you."

"That's now what I said," she says coldly. "I said that you were ashamed that you loved me." She pauses, organizing everything she wants to say, and as she opens her mouth more of my insides slip past the weak barrier I'm holding them together with. "You were never ashamed of me, of being my friend. You stood up for me, encouraged me, and were more of a friend than I could have ever asked for.

"But outside of our little group of friends, you never let anyone know just how much you cared about me; you hardly even let them know. I get that it was hard for you, that you couldn't just accept that you loved me, the way I accepted I loved you."

Her last sentence isn't meant to hurt me, not intentionally, but it burns a hole through me, setting my throat on fire. I choke on my tears, on the flames she's pressing on me, but I can't find words to argue with her.

"But I still tried for you. I did everything I knew how, I tried pushing you, I tried leaving you alone, I tried pulling you back in and I tried helping you. But you never tried back, Santana. You let your fear eat away and consume you, and I… I couldn't keep waiting. I couldn't keep waiting for you to be okay with something that would never be okay for you."

I force the hot, burning air through my throat and into my mouth, trying to make some sort of sound. "Brittany."

"I was patient, Santana. I tried for you, I really did. But I knew, deep down, that you would never love me as much as I needed you to, as much as you needed to. You would always be more ashamed of your love than accepting and embracing of it."

"That isn't true," I beg.

She gives me a sad, knowing look. She already knows the answer to what she's going to ask. "Have you been with anyone else since I walked away, Santana? Have you dated anyone in the seven years eleven months and two days since I stopped trying?"

My whole face grows hot and I burn with shame as I nod a weak nod, like I've somehow tarnished our love by trying to move on, to find someone else.

Her being about to marry someone isn't the same. Because she did manage to move on. I've only managed to move from bed to bed.

"Are you still hiding who you are inside," she asks slowly, and the catch in her voice makes me think that she still does care about me, "Or have you accepted yourself yet? Have you had a real relationship with another woman? Or are you still only dating men, hiding who you know you are."

I can't read her anymore, but she can still read me as easily as ever. She knows my answer to this, we both know what it is.

In the first few years, when I was in college and trying to mend the heart she'd broken inside me by leaving, I did try moving on. But only with men. The only romantic relationships I had were with men. I had moved away from home, had the chance to re-write myself, but all I did was hide. And she knows it.

Now, when I'm drunk and hurting, the only beds I fall into are women's. But those are beds I'm not in come morning, and that isn't what she's asking.

"What about you?" I ask as my fingers clutch at the gaping hole in my body, trying to hold the last of me together. "You're the one who left, who walked away."

She shakes her head sadly, "You knew I wouldn't wait forever, Santana. I couldn't. And I apologize for that, I do. But we didn't fit together the way we thought we did. We were too different."

"No," everything inside me pleads with her. "No, Britt, we did fit. We still do. I've never fit with anyone else the way I fit with you."

We're like puzzle pieces, she and I. We only match each other. Our bodies can be forced to fit with someone else, but it won't be smooth and clean and natural. We fit together.

Only she can stop my body from bleeding, from aching and dying before her.

Brittany bites her lip and shakes her head sadly at me. "No, Santana," she says, and the words look like they hurt her to say, but she says them anyway. "You were always too afraid to show people who you are, too worried about what they would think and say and do if they found out. But that's not me." She frowns, "That was never me."

Her arm lifts, a hand moving to run through her short hair as she sighs, "To me, it didn't matter who I was and what people would think, that I was too slow or too stupid or too queer. It was still me, and I never hid that."

My knees buckle slightly with the weight of her words, and I realize I'm not going to win this, this isn't going to work out the way I thought it would.

I reach out to grab her railing to steady me, to keep me from falling, and in doing so my arms are no longer wrapped around myself, protecting me from her.

"I'm sorry," she says, a sad glimmer in her eyes. "I'm getting married in three days, Santana. I love him, and I'm not leaving him. Not for…"

You. That's what she holds back from saying, I'm not leaving him for you, for the mess you are now, for the sad shadow of the girl I loved.

My heart is the only organ left, everything else has falling out, exposed to her. It sits at the base of the hole inside me, leaning against the edge but not fully falling out. It teeters there, waiting.

"Don't marry him, Brittany," I whisper, words wet with the tears I'm vainly trying to hold back. "I can be better, I'll try for you. Give me another chance. Please."

Even as I say them, I know she won't.

Brittany's a forgiving person. But what she said was true, she'll never hide herself. And if she comes back to me, that's what she'll get. I can beg and promise and plead that I won't hide anymore, but we both know that won't happen overnight. And because it won't happen overnight, every day will be too long a wait for her, because she's already waited so long. Every day I'll put it off, tell myself I'll do it soon, but not right now, that I'm not ready yet, that I'm not comfortable with who I am yet.

And we've already played that game once. She won't play again if the outcome will be the same.

"I'm sorry," she says, and her eyes show me just how much she means it. She is sorry. She is sorry that we can't be together. But she's rational, and I'm a broken mess. "It's too late, Santana. I… I think you should go." She pauses, tries to come up with more to say, but can't. So she simply shakes her head and says it again, "I'm sorry."

I'm sorry. Her words are like the final bullet, digging into me, right through my heart, and convincing me of everything I was too afraid to know. Her words cut through the last hope I held onto, that maybe I could make this work out if I only tried to talk with her, that maybe I wasn't too late.

But I am.

I won't win her back.

They say everything happens for a reason.

If that's true, then her shooting me right through the heart and leaving me alone to bleed and die on her sidewalk happened for a reason.

I don't think I'll ever learn what that reason was.