Dear readers! Happy New Year to you all! Sorry for not updating for so long, but here I am, trying to make it up tp you by publishing a 19k long chapter.
This chapter is a breaking point in this story. I know that more and more people turn to fanfiction, because the show is such a disappointment it makes Brittana shippers give up on it. So the timing of this chapter might not be perfect, because it's pretty rough, but I ask every one of you to trust me. I know what I'm doing here.
Unfortunately, I don't think I'm gonna be able to update until the end of the month, because I'm having finals. In the meantime, I'm writing a fun little story called "The best prize", check it out if you miss my writing!
With all being said, I hope you stick by this story through the end!
Thanks to my new beta, StCharles for helping me perfect this chapter!
Enjoy and tell me what you think, or feel about it!
* emmanuelle-s. tumblr. com *
She can't believe she swore not to do this ever again.
Now it feels almost natural.
Still a bit weird and inappropriate for her, but sort of a natural aftermath.
Letting someone fall asleep on top of her body is something she would never have thought of doing until she met someone who enjoys doing it very much and got to like that someone enough to try overcoming her fear of letting another person too close. Intimacy is not something she's had the possibility of practicing for a long time. Never having a constant sexual partner, she doesn't have a clear idea of how she's supposed to handle this. The sex, it's easier now that she's getting in touch with her feelings about it. It's easier to let go now that she's realized she wants to give herself to Brittany.
It's the only way to show her feelings.
The feelings she's been trying so hard to repress and deny, but learned to accept.
She accepted that she has developed feelings for this girl, whose damp hair is sticking to her chin, whose warm breath is hitting her collarbone, whose tight muscles are still wrapping around her fingers and reminding Santana of the way her heart fluttered when she came for her.
This, the aftermath is still hard to handle though.
Considering the status of their relationship and the rules they agreed to, she doubts that she is even supposed to be in Brittany's bed. But Brittany asked her to come, and she wasn't really in the position to say no.
And she wouldn't have been able to anyway.
Staying after though, it's a completely different thing, but something she's got used to through their numerous encounters in their favorite motel room. They've been hanging out, like friends, who occasionally exchanged mind-blowing orgasms with each other.
It was pretty hard for her in the beginning to act like a friend with Brittany, just minutes after she went down on her, but soon she started to enjoy being together with her apart from sex. She tried to let go not just physically, but mentally too.
Of course it was pretty hard, considering she had to constantly be aware and ready to lie when it came to questions and the huge mysteries of her life.
But she really feels like she's improved a lot.
She's been opening up, and revealing more of herself than ever before.
She really feels like she's becoming friends with Brittany.
But having Brittany sleeping in her arms after they've had the most wonderful sex, Santana's starting to wonder if they've become more without either of them realizing and she really wouldn't have thought of letting this ever happen to her.
This whole thing really shouldn't have happened, but she's let it happened, and now it's starting to overcome her. Something that never should have meant anything, has started to have meaning.
Sex now means something.
For a second, she feels like she's still dreaming when she rouses into consciousness.
It's strange because she hasn't even realized she fell asleep and now she is waken by movement on her body and sound filling the air.
This can't be not real though.
When she opens her eyelids and is welcomed by the sight of Brittany on her elbows and knees, grinding into her hand, back bending and mouth hanging open, she knows she's not dreaming because a dream can't be naughty enough to make her feel she is gonna come just by witnessing something like this.
And she is pretty sure if Brittany continues riding her fingers for a few more minutes, she is going to come without touching herself.
It's an impossible choice now, whether to close her eyes and let Brittany finish, or take the sight in and risk that she'll stop. She knows just the feel of it will make her drip onto the sheets, but she just can't take her eyes off her. She is mesmerized by the sight of Brittany using her to make herself come, rocking her hips until Santana's fingers brush the spot inside her that makes her fall apart.
Santana knows her enough now to see that Brittany is close, and it really should just be seconds that she has to pretend sleeping, enjoying the needy moans hitting the air, and the hot fluid flowing onto her hand, and the warmth and pure desire that Brittany's body is oozing.
But it's too late to start pretending, and when Brittany finally finds that spot—her head falling back— their eyes lock the same time she clenches around Santana's fingers. Her blue eyes widen, in fear and embarrassment, and Santana watches her hesitating and trying to retreat, but it's too late now.
Brittany comes undone, her teeth biting down on her lip hard, forcing herself to keep the sounds of pleasure inside while her body shakes with the waves of her orgasm, and Santana is afraid to help her riding it out.
She is kind of afraid to move, or speak, or do anything really.
Brittany seems to share the same feelings, and seconds pass without either of them moving, and it's the weirdest thing that's ever happened to Santana after sex.
Brittany's hips are still trembling a little, and Santana has the urge to still them with her hands, but she is afraid pull out of Brittany, because that would mean acknowledging that she woke up to her masturbating and probably embarrassing Brittany further more. Brittany is gripping the sheets already to stop her body from showing how much she enjoyed it, and her face is flushing more than it should.
It's unfamiliar to see her act so self-conscious, embarrassed by what she's done.
And Santana knows she has to show her she has nothing to worry about.
That's why she slowly pulls her fingers out, careful not to hurt Brittany, and wipes them into the already messy sheets, while closely monitoring every reaction, every flutter of eyelids and every crease of eyebrows from Brittany. Santana is in touch with her abilities enough to know that she really shouldn't open her mouth and attempt to speak in this kind of a delicate situation, so she offers the only thing she can trust, her touch.
Her hands rise from the sheets, and she touches Brittany's back nervously. Brittany lets go of her bottom lip with her teeth, and her face reveals a handful of emotions as Santana's fingers settle on the low of her back and pull her down until their chests merge together.
Brittany opens her eyes, just an inch to catch a peak of Santana, when Santana's thumbs start drawing circles on her back.
Santana can't hold back her soft smile.
Brittany's usually been the stronger, dominating one in this relationship and Santana kind of enjoys being the supporting one now. And she just wants Brittany to see that what she's done is more than okay, in fact it's been the most amazing thing to wake up to.
"Hello beautiful" Santana rasps out, mouth dry from not speaking for long and the intense arousal that is still pressing in the pit of her stomach, and wonders how she managed to come up with such a lame greeting.
But maybe it wasn't that lame, because Brittany opens her eyes completely and the corners of her mouth turns a bit upward, into a bashful smile.
"Hi" She whispers, blinking away, but her smile widens as Santana brings her hands up to gently cup her jaw.
Brittany's skin is hot, burning under Santana's palms that usually get cold through the night, and her eyes reclaim a bit of confidence from the reassuring touch.
"What was that?" Santana asks curiously, never stopping her fingers stroking the blonde's cheeks.
Brittany's shoulders slump, and she spends seconds trying to find the appropriate words.
"You were like…crooking your fingers inside me, when I woke up…and I just couldn't help myself. I'm sorry," she shrugs a little.
"It's okay, believe me" Santana chuckles. "But I wasn't talking about that. You stopped when you noticed me…why?"
She doesn't sound demanding, but Brittany seems like she's just been hit with the exact question she's been trying to avoid.
"I thought you'd be angry." She says, uncomfortably.
Santana frowns, dropping her hands to Brittany's shoulders.
"Because you made my wettest dream come true?" She raises her eyebrows, but Brittany doesn't take the compliment well, she is still acting an awfully lot more reserved than usual. "What's going on here?"
"Nothing" Brittany blurts out, and a blink of an eye later, she is hiding her face in the crook of Santana's neck.
"Britt-Britt" Santana whispers, tilting her head and nudging Brittany's cheek, but all she gets back is a shake of a head.
She is really in the dark here. Brittany's never acted so weird around her, so insecure, needy and bordering childish as she is clinging to her. And Santana's far from being a great psychologist, to get her open up and talk about what's caused her to turn out of herself.
What she decides to be the best is to give her a little time, and a bit of comfort by stroking her back. Brittany seems to loosen up by her touch, and she raises her head to look at her after a minute.
"I just knew you'd want to leave when you woke up, so I just wanted to…you know, make the most of it…" She frowns at her own words, and continues lowly. "Um, this sounds a bit creepy…"
What grips Santana though, like a fist, is the thing Brittany said first, about her wanting to leave, and she tries to hide how upset she is by the accusation. She thought Brittany knew she's in a different place now. They are in a different place now.
She thought she knew.
Maybe Santana'd never be able to fully earn her trust, not without telling her the truth.
It makes anger rise inside of her, because it's not fair.
Life is not fucking fair, and Brittany makes her suffer even more.
Santana could convince her. She could tell her that she's changed, and how much this means to her now. She could tell Brittany that she has feelings for her. But her pride gets in the way, crushing every word that could make Brittany trust her.
Like always, she goes down the wrong way.
"You made the rules, Brittany" she blurts out harshly, pushing Brittany away by her shoulders. "And yesterday you made me come here, despite how it turned out the last time…and now we're fighting over the same damn thing again."
Brittany sits up abruptly and stares at her with wide eyes, Santana's words hitting her like slaps on the face.
"I'm sorry" she shrugs her shoulders, and tries to touch Santana, but she brushes her hand away.
Brittany's hurt is darkening her eyes, and Santana's own hurt is making it hard to stay in her place and not run away, like a shot animal with a bleeding wound. That Brittany is still straddling her hips is not making her case easier. But the tears brimming Brittany's blue eyes make her anger vanish, and the urge to comfort her overcome her pique.
"Can't you see how hard I'm trying here?" Santana whispers dejectedly, shaking her head.
She stares into space, avoiding Brittany's eyes because she knows nothing coherent would come out if she watched her cry.
Bitterness creeps up inside her, because she really thought this could work between them, but now she is starting to think she'll never be able to give Brittany what she wants. Brittany's words made her realize how fragile their relationship is, and how insecure she is about her part in it.
Only the light touch of Brittany's fingers on her neck brings her back to reality.
"I know. You are amazing…and I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hurt you. Please believe me" Brittany pleads, her eyes flickering with the fear of crushing what they've been building in the past weeks. "Sometimes the words just come out differently than they should…I'm sorry, I'm just too stupid for you."
She shakes her head, expression pained and Santana's heart would break for her if it didn't just heal by her words.
Her life would really be freaking easier if she didn't automatically think of the worst. If she would hear people out before judging, if she would open her mind instead of letting her pride and temper get the worst of her.
"You're not stupid..." She exhales deeply, and takes Brittany's hand from her neck. She squeezes it lightly, offering peace. "I'm sorry that I got mad so fast.
"I didn't want to make you believe I'm not pleased with how we're moving" Brittany leans down, her eyes brighter, but there're still sadness and shame clouding the shades of light blue deep inside. "I just…these past days, they've been so perfect with you like a dream and I thought it would end somehow…sooner or later."
There is something comforting about the thought that Santana is not the only one afraid in this relationship. But there is something awfully sad that they can't be together in peace without worrying it will end, sooner or later.
Until there's a tiny chance that they can make it though, Santana will hope, because there's someone who taught her that in spite of how freaking unfair this world is, there is always hope.
"It doesn't have to end" she whispers, almost begging for Brittany to believe her.
Her words are weak, because the emotions are cracking them into syllables, but they find Brittany, and they are enough to get a grip on and hold onto in the storm of their fears. Santana is longing for her own words to be true and wishes the paradise of these past days would never end.
"Kiss me, please" Brittany breathes out, while bringing their clasped hands over her heart and Santana just knows Brittany believes her. The fast but steady beating of her heart shows Santana that she trusts her, and she lets go of Brittany's hand to push her palm to her bare skin, and feel it more, to feel it even closer to her, to hope that it's for her.
Brittany's hands slowly snake around her, and they embrace each other as Santana leans in to capture her lips in a kiss.
She gasps when Brittany opens her mouth to kiss her fully, tongue inside her mouth and pushes her shoulders, until they hit the bed, tangled into each other.
They are kissing for minutes, and Santana knows minutes make hours, and hours make days, days make weeks and months, and she hopes these minutes will make forever.
She is in a great need of a shower when they agree neither of them can take more sex.
Brittany offers her the use of the master bathroom, and after a long moment of contemplation she decides she'd settle for showering like a normal person this one time instead of rubbing her skin raw in a stainless steel cabin she owns at home. She says okay, and Brittany gets up to give her the most ridiculous fluffy bathrobe a person can possibly wear, trying not to break into a fit of giggles. She fails, of course, and Santana rolls her eyes at her before locking the bathroom door.
When she comes out, as clean as possible, her skin rubbed and itchy by the hot water, and hair in a tight bun, her dress and underwear are folded on the bed beside a crossed-legged sitting Brittany.
There's a white envelope in her hands, and she stops fumbling with it when Santana closes the door behind her with a click.
"You left this here earlier…" Brittany licks her lips, and her ears color with guilt that Santana tried to convince her she shouldn't feel when she confessed her she tried to investigate who Santana was.
The envelope is a painful reminder of an incident in their not so long-lived past, and Santana tries to brush off the anxiety that overcomes her when she recalls it ever happening. She tries not to think how things would have turned out if Brittany had found out. She just nods to acknowledge that she heard, not able to trust her voice to stay even if she spoke.
Instead she tries to concentrate on dressing up, but it's impossible when Brittany's eyes follow her every move. Turning away might seem stupid, but she seriously contemplates it.
Brittany makes the easiest tasks seem complicated.
"Would you stop gawking?" Santana blurts out, before she can filter her thoughts, but Brittany doesn't even blink.
She just drops the envelope on the bed, and crosses her arms, before slowly giving her a onceover that much to Santana's embarrassment, shoots a jolt of arousal into her core.
"Well, I can still taste you in my mouth, so I'm not sure what you're trying to hide…" Brittany shrugs her shoulders, and pokes her tongue out to lick her bottom lip and makes a humming sound, which makes Santana pretty sure showering was pointless between her legs.
"You really are the biggest pervert, Brittany Susan Pierce" She tries to sound disapproving, but her raspy voice can't hide how turned on she is by Brittany's bluntness.
"I just like watching you…among other things" Brittany clears her throat, and her sexual innuendo doesn't go unnoticed by Santana, who wants to shoot back but Brittany quickly silences her by standing up to come closer. "I don't think you realize how beautiful you are."
She grabs the waistband of Santana's bathrobe, and loosens the only barrier between their naked bodies, but Santana isn't thinking about sex right now. Even when the robe falls from her shoulders and hits the floor, she is still just staring into Brittany's appreciating eyes and trying to believe her.
"I'm not used to people telling me that" she whispers, looking away to hide the resentment she is feeling when she thinks about her past, and how her parents made her feel like she's a disgraced person growing up. They made her feel she could never be as talented, smart and beautiful as the valids around her.
And even though both boys and girls have lusted after her, nobody's ever truly made her feel like she is beautiful.
"That's one thing we share then" Brittany tells her, and Santana casts her gaze back to see her smiling sadly and she wonders how that could be possible.
She wonders whether she's not the only one hiding something that makes her suffer to this day, that makes her constantly question herself, her looks and her brain, everything. Maybe Brittany is hiding something too. The way she is calling herself stupid sometimes, and unworthy of Santana's attention hints at issues Santana never thought a person like her could have.
The gorgeous, loving, and brilliant person Santana has come to know her to be, even Brittany has doubts about herself. And somehow, Santana guesses, knowing why Brittany has them would make it easier to accept and uncover Santana's own past, and the truth about herself.
Maybe in time, she will be brave enough to ask.
Brittany walks her out when she is ready to go, and they spend seconds in silence before she gives Santana a hard kiss on the mouth.
Santana says goodbye, and walks down the path, feeling on her back how Brittany's eyes are following her like a shadow. She just left, but she is yearning to come back already. For some reason, she has a feeling it was a special occasion that she could spend the night and it makes her want to go back and crawl under Brittany's white sheets again. She felt safety and peace, the rarest things she's experienced in her life, and this morning, she felt like they could have a chance at happiness for even a little more while.
Even though her happiness could never be complete while she is keeping her secrets in the dark, Brittany makes her let go and feel happy while they are together.
When she climbs inside the cab though, and drops her bag on the other seat, she is reminded of the truth that's lying inside the white envelope.
The fact that the envelope is still closed just proves how unworthy she is of Brittany's affection.
It's a sick twist of life that Brittany feels the same way about her.
She turns around in her seat to look back, and Brittany is still there, in a blue shirt, watching her leave. She shoots her a soft smile, and hopes Brittany can see it from the distance. Of course she does, and Santana rolls her eyes inwardly. As a valid, Brittany would see her smiling even from the end of the street.
Brittany smiles back, but Santana doesn't have time to appreciate how beautiful she is when her face is glowing with a wide smile, because her vision is blinded by white light for a second and it ruins everything.
Another flash of light later, a black car is speeding up from afar, sending a chill down her spine and she watches it passing them fast, but still slowly enough for her to form a horrible suspicion. She catches only a glance at the man sitting inside, and it's not enough to know for sure it's the person she's most afraid of.
But the flashlights, the black car, it can't be a coincidence.
Or it is a coincidence, but that would mean life is playing a cruel and dangerous game with her.
With her and Brittany.
Because right now, she is starting to suspect that they are being followed by him and her rawest instinct to protect herself and Brittany is making her act without consideration.
"Follow the car!" She chokes out semi-conscious, eyes still glued to Brittany's face, who seems equally confused at the shockingly sharp turn of events.
When the cab is not moving under her a second later though, she cuts off their eye-contact and adrenaline rushes into her veins when she turns her head to the dumbfounded driver.
"I beg your pardon, Miss?" He asks, and she swears to God never to leave her car home again.
"Follow the damn car, you idiot!" She shouts at him, and climbs into the passenger seat clumsily, shocking the driver. "Now! Else you will regret it your whole life!"
They are accelerating a split second later and she is grateful for her ability to make people fear their lives with plain words. They already lost time, and the familiar black car managed to get out of sight, so Santana has to rely on her sixth sense to instruct the driver where to turn at the end of the wide street. She demands him to speed up and break the law, offering him her monthly salary if he manages to catch the sick person who's been following her and Brittany for a week now.
She has to catch the bastard. She has to know for sure who it is. Because if it's him, she swears on her own life that she'll kill him with her bare hands.
She fucking needs to know.
They find the car again, and she is yelling Spanish curses at the person driving it like her words would make the asshole stop and reveal who they are. It's the busiest time of the day on the road, and they have to slide between slower cars to keep up, until they hit the highway and the chase goes on without speed limit.
Santana's never been this grateful for the change in laws, and grips the handhold tightly on the side when they're bordering 150 miles per hour to stay close to the man in front of them.
Her heart is beating in her throat and she can barely see from the anger and fear that are clouding her vision, and her better judgment. She demands to go faster, and tries to blink the desperate tears in her eyes away when she is starting to realize they won't ever catch up. The distance is growing by the minute, and her yells turn into bargains, and then begs for the man to stop.
Her frustration takes over and she can't hold back the angry, choking sobs escaping her mouth.
The car gets out of sight, and she is pretty sure a bone in her hand breaks when she shoves her fist into the window.
They lost the car, and it's just now - when she is shaking by the force of crying - that she realizes how dangerous it was to follow it. She could have caused an accident, she could have ruined innocent people's lives, or she could have ruined her own life if the cops caught them.
And it would have been for nothing.
Schuester is crossing the state line while she is left here, sitting in this damn cab crying, her hand shaking from the stabbing pain, reminded that she could never have a chance for peace in her life until she is tied to him by the secret they share.
An evil man, but her only chance for this life.
Quinn squeals in shock when they meet at home.
"What happened?" She asks hurriedly, eyes wide and horrified. "Santana?" She demands, rushing close, but Santana stops her with a shake of her head, too tired to speak, and holds her hand to her chest. Something dawns on Quinn's face, and her expression turns darker, disapproving.
Like Santana caused her own injury.
Unfortunately, that's kind of true, but not the way Quinn probably assumes. Those times are over now.
"Did you get into a bar fight again? I swear to God, if you…"
"I didn't!" Santana yells to cut her off, because all she wants is for the questions to stop and time to still so she can find her inner peace again. "I didn't…" She repeats in a whisper, and Quinn's guilt is written all over her face.
She comes closer and trails her eyes all over Santana, and Santana has to force her gaze away not to fall apart under her best friend's sad hazel eyes.
"Okay, okay" Quinn whispers, and clears her throat. Santana knows it's a sign that she is trying to find the right thing to do. "Just show me your hand, please?"
Santana gulps and pulls her left hand away from covering her bruised one and hears Quinn wince painfully at the sight. She prays to God for the thousandth time that it's not broken and she knows Quinn is doing the same thing.
"We have to get you to a doctor…someone to take a look at it." Quinn tells her carefully, like she is afraid of her reaction. "I think it's not broken but still…" She frowns, touching her wrist delicately with her cold fingertips.
Santana pulls her hand away and shakes her head bitterly.
"Yeah let's go to a doctor! Maybe my blood will be drawn, and surprise…an invalid!" She tries to let out a dry chuckle, but it gets stuck halfway. "Or maybe I should just show it to Schuester, right?"
"That's not what I said, Santana. I'm not stupid" Quinn shoots her down and Santana stops fighting her, too exhausted and emotionally drained to voice the bitterness and anger she is feeling. "I'm gonna put some ice gel and a strip around it…please don't even try to argue with me!"
Santana nods slightly, and lets herself get dragged into the bathroom.
Quinn pulls down the toilet lid for Santana to sit on, while she dives into the cabinet to find the medical supplies they keep at home for emergency. Santana stares at her hand and shakes her head at her own stupidity to get herself into this mess.
Quinn turns back to her and touches her hand lightly, which makes her wince.
At least she can move it, but the sight is scary.
The ice soothes the stabbing pain even the slightest movement causes, and the strip Quinn wraps around her hand holds it tightly.
It has two days for the healing process, because when it comes to work, Santana could never show up with a sign of injury. At least Quinn can practice her make-up skills, she laughs inside, but it dies down quickly, leaving her with the feeling of an empty hole inside her chest.
"Do you want to talk about it now or…?" Quinn asks quietly, but firmly enough for Santana to know she can't escape giving her answers sooner or later.
"I just want to be alone, please" She tells her sincerely, not sure if it's a good idea to be alone with her dark thoughts, but sharing what happened would be too soon, the memories too fresh and scary for her to recall.
She just wants to be alone and replay in her mind how her day started.
It started out like a dream.
And now she feels like she's dreaming again, but it's the worst nightmare she's ever had.
Quinn knows everything by the time the sun starts setting.
Santana's hand is healing nicely, the swell working off and the pain easing up, but she still needs Quinn's help when she tries to handle eating like an adult, with a fork in her injured hand. They don't talk for a long while, just staring at their empty plates, and waiting for the other to start speaking. Santana cracks sooner.
She cracks completely.
She confesses everything to Quinn, from the moment Brittany invited her over last night until she stumbled into the apartment, tear-worn and injured. Quinn tries to convince her she is just being paranoid, and there's a slight chance she is right, but Santana has a feeling she is not. It can't be a coincidence. She wants it to be the most, but it just doesn't seem to be.
It feels more like a puzzle with the darkest picture, the black car parking when she sat in her car at Brittany's house, and the flashlights when Brittany left the motel after that amazing night they shared. And today it felt like the bastard wanted them to notice him, he wanted to scare them, and he managed to, pretty fucking much.
She is in such a mess, and she's dragged Brittany into it too.
Now it's not enough for Santana to protect herself, there is a more important thing from now on.
She has to protect Brittany.
Even at the cost of her own life.
She doesn't come out much from her room until Sunday evening.
The time spent alone does her good.
She's done a lot of thinking and realized that the best way to keep Brittany safe is to hide the information from her that might cause either of them trouble and act like nothing happened. At least until Santana knows more. She wouldn't want to scare her. Even if she has to lie more, she does it for her now.
That's the only way to keep her safe.
Quinn agrees, and Santana is grateful that she doesn't have to convince her. She is just too damn tired to do that. The rapid painkillers make her slow and sleepy, and when Quinn is finished covering her bruises with make-up to see if it's a good enough solution for work tomorrow, Santana is not sure whether she's just dreamed the whole thing happening or her best friend is that good at it. Her mood is lifted a bit, because now that her bruises can't be seen, there is one less thing to worry about.
"Quinn" She catches Quinn's wrist when she is standing up from her chair beside her.
Quinn looks at her stunned, and apprehensive of what is about to come out of her mouth. The air is still around them as Santana is trying to find the right words to voice her gratitude, but she just opens her mouth and stares at her best friend.
She is too weak.
And Quinn knows it.
Santana's hold on her wrist loosens, and she looks away to escape from her pity.
"Thank you" she whispers, her voice cracking.
Telling these words isn't easier as time is passing, days, months and years and Quinn is still standing by her side through everything. But these words mean more now, and Quinn knows it too. Santana means to say so much more behind them. She wouldn't last without Quinn, she just wouldn't survive in this world. Quinn's undying support keeps her strong enough to bear the consequences of her choice to live as a valid person and she keeps her sane, grounded even through the hardest of challenges life throws in her way.
Quinn draws her hand out from Santana's weakling grip, and squeezes her hand subtly. It says more than any words could. Santana knows it means they are in this together.
When Santana revealed her secrets to her best friends, they all made a choice. Since then, there's been no way out. They are in this together, her mess.
But it's different now.
Brittany is in it too, though she has no idea. It's not fair to her, and Santana knows it. That's why her heart feels squeezed into a tight fist, making it impossible to breathe freely. She feels choked by the guilt and she doesn't know how she will look into Brittany's eyes and not feel horrible ever again.
A lot more is at stake now than their relationship.
If he is the one following them, it could have consequences she doesn't dare to think about…not yet. But she can't not think of what it could mean to Brittany's life. Santana's been living at his mercy for years now, but Brittany is different. She didn't choose this kind of life. Santana dragged her into the mess and their relationship is wrong now on a completely different level. She tried to stop this relationship, she tried to cut it off and reason with Brittany.
But everything is different now.
She has feelings for her.
She's never felt it so strongly than this morning, when she watched Brittany's scared face after the black car passed the cab Santana was sitting in, dangerously close. Santana was afraid, and for the first time in her life, she wasn't afraid the most for herself.
Her feelings are so strong now that she can't stay away from Brittany.
She needs her.
And she has to find a way to be with her without ruining their lives. But is that possible?
Is it possible to keep lying and stay safe? Is it possible to lie to her face and then kiss her, honestly a second later? Is it possible to keep their relationship hidden but not make Brittany feel like she is hiding her? Is it worth it, the lying?
Is it right?
"I have to tell her." Santana whispers, the second she comes to the decision.
She is staring into space, trying to get in touch with the words she's just uttered and trying to convince herself she can do it, even if it means the end for her and Brittany.
It is the right thing to do.
"If you tell her, there's the possibility you're putting her in more danger." Quinn crouches down in front of her, and tries to reason. "We don't know what he is capable of…if it really was him."
"She has a right to know."
"Even if it might mean the end for you?"
"I would give up everything." Santana rushes the words out, with determination she didn't know she held in her heart. "She can't be hurt, Quinn."
"Please think this through again, Santana!" Quinn pleads, searching for her eyes. "There is still chance it wasn't him…there's an awful lot of cars like that on the streets and the lights? It could come from anywhere and not necessarily a camera. Please don't ruin your relationship with Britt until we know for sure!"
Santana shakes her head, hating how complicated this is. She is conflicted. Quinn is right, she should wait until they know more. But what if they don't find out for sure, ever? What if it's too late when she decides to act? They don't know what he is capable of, if it was him in the black car.
"I'm telling her by the end of the week…if there is a tiny chance it was him, I'm telling her."
Quinn nods up and down slowly, comprehending her words.
"Okay…okay" She breathes out softly, sounding like she's already bracing herself for the week in front of them.
Santana is already preparing for the worst scenarios.
But it's pointless, she knows it, she has to let go of her worries because they don't make her any good.
And she really should prepare for her speech tomorrow. In the middle of her turmoil, she completely forgot about it. But she has to get into the right mood and she is pretty far from being settled to think clearly and creatively now.
"How are you feeling about a glass of red wine?" She asks Quinn, breaking the heavy silence.
Quinn stands up slowly, and shoots her a soft smile.
"It sounds perfect."
They are settled in the living room, Quinn reading some ancient book, crawled up on the huge vintage armchair she brought with her when she moved in despite Santana's strong protest and Santana laid out on the couch with stacks of paper covering her and the coffee table. Some used scraps of paper lie on the floor around her.
She's writing the fifth version of her speech, but she is still not entirely pleased. She lets out angry huffs once in a while, earning disapproving looks from Quinn.
This one time, she looks her in the eye, and she feels something strange.
There is something else she forgot entirely.
"How was your date?" She blurts out, surprising Quinn, who looks like she's forgotten about her own date too for a second.
But Quinn's hard expression melts, and for the first time since she came home, Santana can see the worry truly disappearing from her face. Quinn gracefully places her marker in the book, and puts the book down, before standing up to sit on the couch beside Santana's feet.
"It was lovely…okay, it was kind of amazing" She admits with a faint blush, smile widening as she seems to recall the events of her night with Michael. "He brought me flowers…and he took me to this weird place downtown. It was a film theater, and we watched a classical drama...he told me he memorized my favorites when we talked about them once, like four months ago."
She looks like she still can't believe it.
"Is this guy even real?" Santana whispers to herself, because this just sounds like the most romantic first date she could imagine. Of course it's damn cheesy and missing the fancy factor she's used to, but it is just kind of perfect how it is.
"I know…" Quinn sighs, and they both take a moment to wonder how a guy like Michael exists in this world. "I think he got a bit nervous though…towards the end. Like he was worrying that it wasn't enough, so he offered to take me to a restaurant or a bar, if I wanted to."
"So where did you go?" Santana asks with rising curiosity.
"We bought hot-dogs at the corner." Quinn chuckles.
"In my head it was a mysterious Chinese restaurant he brought you to familiarize with his culture, but feel free to go on" Santana waves with her hand and Quinn giggles like a schoolgirl who's just been on the first date of her life.
"So we ate hot-dogs while taking a walk, and he held my hand, and it was amazing. People stared at us, and I think he got embarrassed about how he looked beside me…but I didn't let him pull his hand away"
"Aw" Santana coos, imagining the couple holding hands like love-sick puppies licking each other's faces.
"Yeah…um, then he drove me home of course…" Quinn shrugs her shoulders, like this is the least exciting part of the story "…and he kissed me good-bye." She raises her voice a bit at the end, and Santana frowns at her strange behavior.
"And…that was that? You didn't invite him up?"
Quinn exhales slowly, and raises her eyes from her lap to look at Santana again.
"I did…but he declined." She admits reluctantly, and crosses her arms around her. She looks ashamed of what happened, and Santana is trying to figure out what to say to make her understand it is okay.
"Like a true gentleman." She tells Quinn, because for some ridiculous reason, for her it's obvious. She seems to just get Michael. "Quinn, there is nothing to worry about."
"But what if he thinks it was inappropriate that I asked?"
"Did he look shocked at your ungraceful attempt to violate his innocence?" Santana raises her eyebrows high behind her glasses.
"Shut up" Quinn rolls her eyes at her, but lets out a faint chuckle anyway.
"I'm being serious here. Look, you know I had my fair share of sex on the first date…in fact, I only had first dates in my life if you know what I mean…but when I was younger, I always imagined that…if I ever got a real girlfriend, I would wait…out of respect, and to show that being with her means something and shouldn't be rushed. You should sleep together when it feels right, for both of you and you should stop worrying and just let it happen, 'cause it will, believe me. You are just not one to deny for long."
"Wow, you're making me blush here."
"That's just the plain truth" Santana shrugs her shoulders, and settles back to rest against the arm of the couch. Quinn mulls over her words for seconds, and Santana almost gets back to writing her speech when she speaks up.
"What about you though? You said you imagined you'd wait if you got a girlfriend…what changed?" She asks quietly, and the question hangs in the air like a dark cloud.
Santana gulps, because facing her past is always hard.
"I thought nobody would ever want to date me"
"Santana" Quinn shakes her head, her expression full of pain and pity.
"It's true. So I gave up and used girls only for sex." Her blatant honesty is not shocking for Quinn, who understands Santana's past and how it has turned her into the person she is now.
"Is it how it started out with Brittany, too?" Quinn asks carefully.
"Yeah…" Santana replies on instinct, but stops herself to mull over the question some more. "No, I mean…it was meant to be a one night stand, but it didn't feel like it. When she touched me, it was new and exciting, but also…familiar. Nobody's ever made me feel like how she did before. And it scared me..." She admits quietly.
"She did turn out be a lot more though, didn't she?"
"Uh-uh, yeah" Santana raises her head and smiles softly at Quinn.
However bad their situation is, she can't hide the fact that Brittany means a lot to her now. Quinn searches her eyes for something, and it's one of the rare occasions Santana lets her see into her.
"Santana…do you feel something for her?" Quinn asks breathlessly.
Santana feels it's the moment of truth, but she's not sure what she is supposed to say. She can't give her an easy answer, because nothing is easy, nothing is plain and simple, everything is complicated.
"I feel…everything. I feel angry, and scared, and jealous…hurt." Her voice weakens as she counts the things she's felt for the past weeks, and looks at Quinn with hope that her answer said everything.
"All these bad things?"
"Are they bad?" Santana asks sincerely, before trying to explain. "I just feel angry, when she calls herself stupid. I feel jealous when she looks at another woman…so jealous I feel like I could explode. I feel scared when I think about something bad happening to her…and it hurts me that I can't give her what she deserves. Is that not how I should feel?"
She's never experienced having feelings for someone…romantic feelings or whatever people call them.
She has sure as hell never felt these things, which is why it's so scary and amazing at the same time...
"I feel these things too, but…" Quinn shrugs a little and her mouth turns into a gentle smile. "I feel that my heart skips a beat when Michael smiles at me and I forget about everything else. How do you feel when Brittany smiles at you?"
Santana stares into her lap and tries to remember how she felt when Brittany smiled at her the last time. She recalls the moment. It's crystal clear, Brittany standing on her doormat, watching her leaving…she was smiling at her.
"Like I'm everything people made me believe I'm not." Santana whispers. "Like I'm smart…like…like I'm the most beautiful person in the world. Like I am someone…who deserves to be loved." She chokes on the last words, her emotions getting the better of her, and Quinn squeezes her bent knees supportively.
"I think…it's pretty safe to say you two have feelings for each other." Quinn says with a smile in her voice.
"I'm so afraid to tell her…" Santana raises her eyes at her, admitting her deepest, all-consuming fear.
But Quinn's smile doesn't waver.
She looks like she believes their feelings can conquer it all.
"Everything's gonna be all right." Quinn tells her, and Santana believes her for now, because sooner or later she knows it will be impossible.
The speech turns out to be a masterpiece with Quinn's help.
They formed a great team in this challenge. It was fun. They competed to come up with the cheesiest expressions. Santana even practiced the speech in front of her mirror late into the night, just like her own mentor, Rachel Berry would have done. Of course Santana would never admit it, but Rachel's ridiculous things are really helping her these days.
When the trainees finish clapping and whistling, much to her amusement, she asks them to introduce themselves in a few words and she isn't surprised when a familiar blonde girl raises her hand first.
"I'm Kitty Wilde." She says, and Santana can barely contain her giggles. So this is the girl she was meant to fuck, good to know Puckerman picked her a 'wild one'. "I graduated summa cum laude from the USC Academy."
At least it turns out, she's academically intelligent, not that it really means anything since Santana stopped going to school at sixteen and here she is, judging these bunch of losers from her seat at the head of the table.
The girl is arrogant and full of herself, but they will break her in, that's not even a question. Her summa cum laude means nothing here, but Santana lets her and the other nine hope their academic achievements or their genetics really guarantee their success. They have to learn for their own that the only things that matter here are hard work, sheer will and humility.
That's what Sue Sylvester taught her.
Sue's speech was inspiring, like always, and it made her remember her first day vividly. She came here full of hope and eagerness. She was raw, because she survived a lot of things in her life and she was full of wounds. The others around her seemed different, but it turned out they weren't that much after all.
They all had their fair share of crap in their lives, in their family, school or love life.
But Santana didn't know it back then. She felt out of place and it made her all the more determined to be the best, following her mentor's footsteps. She didn't like Rachel, because she was annoying, nosy, and sometimes too hard on her. She wanted Santana to be perfect and when she failed, she hated to see the disappointment on her face.
But every time, she became stronger, and more inspired to improve, until she was damn near perfect and better than everyone else, even Quinn, who came here as the Kitty of her class, the perfect American girl with the perfect academic record.
Kitty reminds her of Quinn, though Quinn would probably choke her to death if she dared to compare them. Santana has to wait and find out if Kitty is just the same sugar-coated nothing she thought Quinn was at first sight, or she is more. Because if she is anything like Quinn, they're damn lucky to have her here.
"You were pretty motivated then. Why did you choose to be an astronaut?" Santana asks, narrowing her eyes at the younger girl.
She seems sincerely surprised by Santana's question and a bit disturbed, like she wasn't prepared to reveal more than she said about herself.
"I…" She hesitates, and lowers her saddened eyes into her lap, making Santana's curiosity rise. There is something going on with this girl behind the façade, that's at least one thing they share. "Um…my parents wanted me to."
Santana is not surprised to hear that. It is just the way things work in this world. Somehow parents think their kids are obligated to do what they want them to, just because they gave them an excellent genetic quotient. Especially the richer ones—in Santana's experience, they are even worse.
She can't stop herself from directing another question to the girl.
"Did you want the same too?"
Kitty's eyes shot up from her lap, expression bordering offended as she bores into Santana.
"Of course." Her words cut through the tension-filled air like a sharp knife right into Santana's throat, but she is not someone Kitty can scare away by her penetrating stare or chilly tone.
Santana might have not been fair to stir up the shit the girl's hiding, but she was genuinely curious about her motives to be an astronaut. She is interested in all these ten young people.
"Is there anyone who came here for a different reason?" She turns her attention towards the others, but nobody's answering her question. They are all afraid of her already, she muses inwardly. "Don't tell me you're all trying to make mommy and daddy proud…" She chuckles mockingly, but she only earns a couple of headshakes and she gets fed up with the silence pretty quickly, so she picks out another familiar one. "You over there, Marley Rose, isn't it?"
The doe-eyed brunette from the party seems equally surprised and frightened that Santana addressed her with a question.
"You know my name?" She stammers the question weakly, but seems to regret it instantly.
Santana rolls her eyes.
"Okay guys, it's time to get real now." She exhales deeply, before rolling up the arms of her tight blazer. It's time the kids learn something, the sooner, the better. "First rule: don't ever question the knowledge or preparation of your superiors!"
Marley's cheeks blush and Santana doesn't hide her satisfaction. She is having a great time welcoming them into this world one by one. Rachel would have probably interrupted her fun game by now, so she is pretty grateful she is not here.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to-"
"Now we all thank Miss Rose for reminding me of rule number two." Santana raises her voice to cut off the shy girl, and few of them laugh weakly. "Don't cut me off! Let me finish what I mean to say, because nothing you say could be more important, ever. Unless you tell me you discovered a ninth planet in our Solar System." They laugh more freely now, and she is happy to lighten the mood a bit. "So…Marley Rose, what should we know about you?"
The brunette clears her throat awkwardly.
"I was born in Seattle and…my father died when I was four months old." She says quietly, but her words are heavy in the silence. "My mother raised me alone and I came here to have a chance for a better life."
"Is it better now?" Santana asks and Marley looks right into her eyes.
"I'm not sure…"
She blinks away, embarrassed at her answer, but Santana actually appreciates her honesty. It doesn't mean she will let go of her that easily though.
"Millions of people would give up everything to sit in your chair." She turns her attention towards the others, trailing her eyes on their faces. They are just a couple of years younger, but they are all kids to her. "Every one of your chairs. You have a chance to make history here, to achieve things that bring you fame, honor, appreciation…everything a person in your position could dream of."
"What about happiness?" A handsome guy she hasn't paid much attention to so far stuns her with this simple, yet so complicated question.
She swallows hard, before deciding to turn the question against him.
"What makes you happy, Mr.?"
"Mr. Lynn. I'm Ryder Lynn." The boy smiles, and there is something about him that makes it impossible to be hard on him. An innocent, almost childish demeanor, the way he is looking at her and the way he is speaking. He reminds her of Sam and Brittany.
"So what makes you happy Mr. Lynn?" She asks him again.
"Family, friends…I guess…and my dog." He giggles with everyone around them, and even Santana can't hold back the smile tugging at her lips. "And love, of course." He finishes simply.
Love, of course, is what people want to find. But would he give it up to be here? Would he choose the way she did, giving up her chance for true love to live like a valid, to escape?"
Would any of them?
"I assume you left your family and your dog behind when you came here, so you wish to find friends and love here?"
"Yeah" the boy nods up and down with determination. "Did you find these things here?" He asks carefully, and she forces her eyes away, staring at the door that parts them from the people who mean the whole world to her.
She can't fall apart from the weight her words carry now.
There are some interesting ones among them, she has to admit.
Kitty, Marley, Ryder and Wade, they all seem to have hundreds of layers she can't wait to uncover. They all have stories. They all carry stuff.
They are all like her in a way.
The last one of them is a tan guy, short brown hair, puppy eyes and muscles everywhere and a smirk that just stirs something inside her.
An odd feeling of familiarity.
He hasn't said anything so far, and looks at everyone with a kind of indifference and conceit that reminds her of her own behavior when she first came here. This kid is a rough one. He must have hell of a story.
"So who should we welcome as our tenth trainee?" Santana asks, and the silence following her question makes the hairs rise up on her arms.
There is just something about this guy, she can feel it.
Something that means trouble.
He tells them, and she swears her heart skips a beat.
To spend more time in the presence of Noah's possible brother is one of the hardest challenges of her life.
She can't think straight with questions popping up in her brain by the second.
Is he or isn't he, that's the most important one and there is only one way to find out.
It's a pretty big understatement to say that Quinn is shocked.
They spend minutes comprehending the situation in a cleaning closet, and the silence is killing Santana. She's had enough of fucking surprises for these past days, and it's just question of time as to when Santana will crack.
The uncertainty is making it already too hard to breathe.
"We have to find out." She peals from her seat at an empty box, intruding Quinn's thoughts. "If Jake is Noah's brother, we have to know."
"Do you think he knows he has a brother at all?" Quinn stares at her, and Santana shakes her head.
It would be easier if that was the case.
"We are not that lucky." She whispers sadly.
But times like these, she thinks they are not lucky at all.
She tries to stay away from everyone through the rest of the day and leaves work pretty early for her standard, around seven she's already driving fast on the highway towards home.
She can't escape them forever though.
Brittany calls a bit later when she is preparing to leave the house with Quinn. Santana reluctantly picks the phone up, thanks to Quinn's insistence.
She can't stop thinking about what happened Saturday while they talk. The rational and emotional parts of her are making it difficult to do the right thing. She tells Brittany she has stuff to do, and she is not even lying. She is going to the sequence lab with Quinn to find out who Jake Puckerman is.
Brittany is disappointed and tells Santana she misses her already.
It's one of those things that make something blubbering up in Santana's throat and she ends up insisting to meet up later in the motel. Maybe it even works for their advantage that they go there separately, later when it's dark.
When Santana says goodbye to Brittany, Quinn looks at her with proud eyes.
It makes her believe she might really do the right thing.
Brittany can see it the second Santana enters the room and their eyes lock.
She has a sixth sense when it comes to most people, but especially Santana. She doesn't ask at first, because she also has this thing to see right through people and sense when it's time to give them space and when it's time to ask.
She kisses Santana softly, and pulls her down to straddle her hips on the bed. Santana breathes into the kiss, and inhales deeply, Brittany's scent filling her nostrils and she urges to get rid of their clothes. She pulls away and feels hunger overcoming her as she rips her own shirt open and unclasps her bra. Brittany looks at her with growing astonishment, but it doesn't stop Santana from diving under her shirt to cup her breasts roughly and kiss her neck, leaving marks on her pale skin.
Brittany gasps into the air, and pulls her closer by the waist, until their bodies touch in every possible place.
Clothes disappear quickly, and Santana is writhing under Brittany's body with consuming need. She doesn't want to take it slow today. She just wants to get off.
She is about to explode when Brittany starts twirling her tongue around her nipple, and she pushes her head downwards, not hiding what she wants Brittany to do. Brittany raises her head to look up at her and she blinks away, widening her legs and tugging at Brittany's hair.
"What's wrong?" Brittany chooses this moment to ask, and Santana answers on pure instinct.
"Don't lie to me!" Brittany demands firmly, and Santana forces her eyes to look at her.
Brittany looks hurt, but Santana can't make it better now, not when her need for release is overcoming everything else. She strokes her hair and shakes her head, hoping Brittany will let it go for now.
"Britt…" She begs quietly, tugging at her head again. "Please, just…please"
For a second, she thinks Brittany might stand up and leave her there, naked in bed and alone, but she doesn't, she stares at her strangely before cutting off their eye-contact to adjust Santana's legs on her shoulders.
Santana exhales deeply when Brittany lays the first wet kiss on her inner thigh.
And she forgets everything when she feels the tip of Brittany's tongue enter her.
She tells Brittany when she catches her breath enough to speak. Brittany looks up at her, resting her chin on the damp skin of her navel and shrugs her shoulders a little. It makes Santana regret not talking to her when Brittany wanted to.
"It's okay" Brittany smiles faintly, but she glances away when she continues. "But I just wish you could talk to me more instead of…you know."
Santana nods, because she wants the same thing.
She wants to change, but it's hard.
"I know that, but this is who I am…and sometimes I just need to forget. This is the way I'm used to…"
Brittany snaps her eyes back at her.
"You use sex to forget?"
"Um, yeah, it's the best kind of stress relief."
Brittany frowns, and Santana knows it's too late to put her feet into her mouth. She always ruins it, she can't stop herself. She is just not able to pick the right words, when it matters and she ends up hurting Brittany.
"Is that how it is with me, too? You use me to forget about your problems?" Brittany stares at her painfully, her voice faltering at the end of her question.
"No, no, that's not true." Santana rushes to explain, but the words are stuck inside her. She releases a deep breath, before tugging at Brittany's shoulder to pull her until they are face to face. "What I want to say here is that…sometimes I need your touch so much more than anything. It makes me feel better than anyone or anything else could."
Brittany's affection is worth the effort of squeezing these words out. She leans in to nuzzle Santana's nose, and Santana is close to cracking entirely. But she is afraid to say too much. Hell, she is afraid to find out more of what she is feeling, because she is afraid so much. But at some point, she has to face her fears.
"That sounds a lot better" Brittany kisses the tip of her nose and smiles at her brightly.
Santana can't bear her own feelings looking right back at her, and pulls her into her neck.
"I'm sorry if I made you feel otherwise." She whispers into her ear after seconds spent in silence, enjoying the scent and warmth of each other's body. "But you are special to me, Britt, you have to know that. Even if it doesn't seem like it sometimes, being with you means something for me, every time."
Brittany's breath hitches and Santana buries her face deeper into her soft hair, too afraid she might want to look at her.
But Brittany just gets her.
She only kisses her neck before breathing into Santana's ear.
"You are special to me, too."
Quinn is not mad when she confesses she told Brittany.
She doesn't even seem surprised. Maybe Santana is that predictable nowadays. She doesn't really like that.
They agree to tell Noah together but it has to wait until tomorrow. Today was a hell of a day already for both of them, but especially Santana. She hates how everything seems to happen out of her control. For a long time, trouble has stayed out of her life. Her life hasn't been easy, it's never truly been, but the last month was full of surprises, tears and trouble.
She is tired.
She wishes she could just sleep for a little while and only wake up when her problems have disappeared.
They pretend everything is all right at lunch.
It's damn hard, especially now that everyone knows about Jake at their table apart from Noah.
Quinn told Sam. Santana got mad, but nobody was surprised.
They share guilty looks, and Santana can barely force a bite down her throat. Quinn's smile has never been faker, and even Brittany seems more reserved than usual. For once in her life, Santana is grateful Noah is the most oblivious person she knows.
She tries to avert her thoughts all day.
She can't possibly prepare herself for telling Noah he has a brother he's never known, and she is pretty sure she can't possibly go through with it without alcohol in her system. This is just not something she can do sober.
Michael asks when she gulps down her tequila a second after the glass has been placed in front of her.
"Another" She rasps out, pushing it back towards him.
"I guess it is then."
"I can't believe this is happening."
Noah whispers, staring at them with horror.
They're standing in the living room and the dim lights suit the mood perfectly. The tension in the air is unbearable.
Quinn takes a step towards Noah, carefully, but he is like a wounded animal, breathing hard through his nostrils and eyes wide, unfocused.
"But how? Since when do you two know?" He demands, waving his hand at them angrily.
"He is a trainee…I met him yesterday." Santana explains quietly.
"And you haven't told me?" He spits.
"We had to know for sure." Quinn cuts in, trying to reason with him.
"Everybody else knew, right? I felt something was wrong at lunch but I thought I was stupid." Noah chuckles bitterly, and pushes his fist to his mouth. "But you made a fool out of me."
He drops his hand angrily and points in their faces.
"Noah, please calm down."
"Don't!" He takes a step towards them, and Santana leans closer to Quinn on instinct.
"Don't fucking tell me what to do!"
"Noah…" Santana pleads with him, but he shakes her head at her like she betrayed him.
"I need to get out of here…"
He whispers to himself, dropping his hand and standing still in his place for a second.
"Noah, please!" Santana begs him again, but it is of no use as Noah hurries out of the room without another word and leaves with a bang.
The sounds echoes in the apartment, and dead silence follows.
"It's okay…he just needs time." Quinn comforts her, but it doesn't make Santana's heart feel lighter.
"Do you think he will forgive me?" She looks at her best friend, and hopes she says yes.
"He loves you."
Quinn smiles sadly, and for once, Santana hopes love conquers it all.
Noah avoids her like a plague.
She is hurt, and she misses one of her best friends, but she listens to Quinn's advice and gives him space.
She can't bear the thought of him being alone though, so she asks Sam and Brittany to go after him and try to offer him comfort. Santana fears they might not be really successful, because in a way they were partners in her crime. But she catches them having lunch together, and her heart eases a tiny bit. He doesn't seem to talk much, but at least he is not alone. She wonders if he's met Jake yet or seen him without knowing who he was.
Maybe she will get to know something from Brittany later.
Brittany feels bad about it.
Of course she is one of those people.
She feels bad that she breaks Noah's trust by telling Santana what she knows, and Santana feels bad too for asking, but she just can't bear not to anymore. She gets to know from Brittany that Noah hasn't met Jake, but he tried to get in touch with his father, who left him and his mother when he was a kid. He couldn't find him yet, but he doesn't give up, even though Sam tried to convince him it's pointless to stir up the past.
It's better left untouched.
Sam and everyone else, they have a reason to think so.
Santana has a handful of reasons.
At least she knows what's going on, thanks to Brittany, even though the information doesn't make her feel better.
"You have to do something really nice for me in return." Brittany pouts at her, feeling equally dejected and Santana leans in to peck her pink, swollen lips.
"I'm sorry." She breathes into Brittany's mouth softly, wrapping her leg around her thighs. "I would make you pancakes but we don't have a kitchen here…"
There is something about cuddling with Brittany that completely rocks her world. It makes Santana feel calm, relaxed, like all the stress is vanishing from her body and she is left with the feeling of fuzziness filling her chest, spreading into the cavities of her heart. When she is holding onto Brittany, she is not afraid of the future.
When she is feeling her heart beat under her, she is not afraid of anything.
"You can make pancakes?" Brittany pulls away, voice rising in excitement, and Santana smiles dozily into the skin of her neck.
She is adorable.
Santana doesn't know another person who would be equally excited when talking about the little things of life, like pancakes. But pancakes are the greatest, Santana has to admit, especially pancakes with a lot of butter and honey on top, like the way she makes them.
Apart from sex, she knows only one way to make someone feel better and that's making something outrageously sweet for them.
"I can make the best pancakes you've ever tasted." She murmurs before letting out a sigh, and settling even closer. She really wants to fall into a slumber now, but Brittany pulls away slightly and she has no choice but to open her eyes again. "Why are you so surprised?"
Brittany is staring at her with that strange expression again, when she is trying to figure Santana out, but she can't.
Sometimes Santana is afraid to let her. She is afraid to get too close, when it all could end in a blink of an eye. They are still in danger; it didn't change just because there wasn't a sign of their stalker all week. It doesn't mean it was a coincidence. Santana is constantly in danger, because of her life choices, and as she is getting closer to Brittany, Santana is dragging her deeper into the mess.
But times like these, when all she can think about is how good she is feeling with Brittany, she lets go of her fear. She lets her see her.
"I just wouldn't have thought…do you cook?" Brittany asks, eyes full of curiosity.
She is staring at Santana like she just made a wonderful and exciting discovery about her, and she is eager to find out more. She is paying Santana unyielding attention, not to miss even a miniscule detail.
It's pretty unnerving for Santana to talk when she behaves like this and she finds she has to cast her gaze away from Brittany when she starts talking.
"Not that much I used to…" She shrugs a little, and recalls the times that came after she run away from home. It makes her throat tighten, because back then, she was a better person, full of hope for the future. "I worked in a diner for months. It was a shithole for a workplace, but there was this guy, David Martinez, and he got me into cooking."
David was a young Latino, in-valid and gay just like her. At twenty-two, he was one of the most intelligent people Santana's ever gotten to know, despite the fact that he left school at an even earlier stage than Santana. It just proves how little formal education truly means.
He was Santana's first friend in her life. Everybody around them thought they fucked, since neither of them dared to come out in that rotten environment, full of violence, bigotry and hate. It was safer for both of them to pretend they were together.
But Santana still brought a knife with her everywhere.
David had plans, many plans to get out of that dark place, and he tried to convince her to be his mate. She could have chosen that path. She was close, but something made her stay. Something that Brittany would call fate made her stay and go down a different path, a path full of dark secrets.
Still, she made it here.
She can only hope David made it too.
"Why did you work there if it was that bad?" Brittany asks, snapping Santana out of the reminiscence of her past.
Santana feels breathless when she comprehends the question and swallows hard.
"I needed money." She rasps out, and that uncomfortable feeling overcomes her instantly, which usually makes her run away.
It is too much of her past, and she takes a deep breath to place herself back into the present, where Brittany's arm is wrapped around her back and she is held tightly, protected from the monsters of her dark past.
"My mother never let me in the kitchen…so I don't know how to cook." Brittany blurts out awkwardly, and Santana has to close her eyes, because it makes her overwhelmed how much this girl gets her.
She doesn't know how to get used to it. She doesn't know how to get used to Brittany seeing right through her. But she is grateful Brittany knows what she needs. She knows exactly when to stop, when to let go and give her space. And she is trying to make it easier for Santana by remembering her own monsters. Santana knows there is something up with her mother, maybe her whole family.
Everything is so strange about them. They've yet to visit Brittany. And still, here she is, talking about her mother.
It makes Santana's heart ache.
"It's easier than you think." Santana tries to lighten the mood, because the air feels too heavy for her ragged breathing to handle. "I could show you a few things if you want sometime." She offers, shrugging her shoulders a bit before closing her eyes again.
Silence settles around them, and Santana hums contentedly. She is bordering on unconscious when Brittany's words snap her eyes open again.
"You should come over tomorrow and make pancakes for me in the morning."
Her heart starts beating at an awfully faster pace, and she raises her eyebrows, too shocked to form coherent words.
She is not sure what just transpired here.
Is this the moment when she has to choose between staying friends with benefits and becoming more? Is this the choice Brittany just offered her here, wrapped into the innocent mask of a sleep-over and pancakes? What is this supposed to be? Is this a date?
She is not sure. She's never been on one or maybe she was, but she didn't even realize. Was that a first date when she showed Brittany her favorite place and they watched the launch together?
They almost kissed.
Santana should have kissed her.
She should have done a lot of things she didn't. She's never felt so strongly that she wants to have a date with Brittany. She wants it really badly, but she is not sure it's right to say yes, when everything is so fragile around them.
She is not sure it's right to say yes when she still hasn't told her.
Will it ever be right?
She is struggling to make up her mind and she knows the more time she takes the more she is hurting Brittany. Maybe it was just an innocent offer, and Santana shouldn't imagine it to be more. But somehow, she feels it is exactly what she felt, it is something more.
"Or you could show me when you're -" Brittany tries to backtrack, and her efforts to save Santana from the trouble of saying no makes her act.
"It's okay." Santana looks up at her, heart beating in her throat. "I can come over if you want."
She shoots her an awkward tight-lipped smile and leans in to kiss her. It's clumsy because Brittany just opens her mouth, when she tries to capture her lips.
But it's still perfect.
And she quickly forgets about all the questions popping up in her head. Maybe they are in for a date, or maybe they aren't. It doesn't matter. Words don't matter.
"Hmm" Brittany hums into Santana's mouth when pulling away, and it makes her light-headed. "I can't wait to taste your pancakes too."
While Brittany is in the shower, Santana spends minutes staring out of the window behind the curtain.
She feels like a paranoid. She feels like she is the one stalking others now.
She is monitoring the street, paying close attention to anything strange, out of place, a detail that could bring her closer to the truth. There is nobody out there, and considering the fact that it's well past midnight, she shouldn't be surprised. A few cars pass by, and her heart speeds up every time, but they are just regular cars, with regular people inside them.
When Brittany exits the room, and questions what she is doing, Santana mumbles something about watching the stars. It gains her an amused look on Brittany's face.
She waits out Brittany gathering her stuff around the room and dressing up.
She kisses her goodbye behind closed doors and whispers into her ear to take care of herself. Brittany looks at her with that strange expression again. A lot goes unsaid, before Brittany's mouth turns into a soft smile and she says goodbye.
Santana runs to the window after Brittany closes the door behind her, and watches her walk down the hallway, then the stairs until she crosses the parking lot and climbs into her car.
Everything stills after she leaves the parking lot, turning right on the street and speeding up.
And Santana prays to God it will stay this way.
Quinn is up when she gets home.
She is afraid something bad happened, because Quinn is never up past midnight.
"Noah called" Quinn rushes to tell Santana, whose heart is about to escape from her ribcage. "He wants to talk to you." Her mouth forms a soft smile, and it takes a second for Santana to grasp what she said.
She tackles her in a tight hug, and breathes into her hair. It smells like vanilla and flowers blossoming in the spring.
"Thank you." She murmurs, and hears Quinn chuckle.
She pulls away, snapping her eyes open to look at Quinn. She is smiling mischievously and Santana frowns at her questioningly, but Quinn just shrugs.
"Don't say sorry again!" Noah tells her for the hundredth time through their conversation and she rolls her eyes.
"But I still think I should have-"
"Coulda, woulda, shoulda…Santana, stop worrying about it!" Noah cuts her off. "We are good now."
Santana sighs, and tries to let it go.
Calling him was hard, because she didn't know what to expect. She was anxious, and she could barely form words in the beginning. Noah saved her by saying sorry for lashing out on her, and blaming her for what happened. They kind of competed who could say sorry more times. She is pretty sure she won.
But Noah is right, it's time to let go of it and concentrate on what's important.
"And how are you?" She asks him gently.
"Fine." Noah answers, and Santana can see him shrugging in her head. "It's just strange. I can't stop thinking about him when I'm at work."
Santana doesn't find this strange at all. It's really hard to forget about her own problems at work, but she has the ability to force herself with sheer will to concentrate on getting the job done.
"You haven't met, have you?"
"He looks a lot like you…and he owns that smirk, you should know that." Santana smiles into the phone.
"So he really is a Puckerman." Noah sighs.
"Yeah…" Santana sighs too, before contemplating her next question. She is not sure she wants to hear the answer, but she asks anyway. "What do you want to do?"
"I'm not sure" Noah says abruptly. "I'm not even sure if he knows about me. I couldn't reach my father. I had no idea he started a new family…" He lowers his voice, and Santana can hear the disappointment and grief laced into it.
"You couldn't find him?" She asks him.
"Well, I tried to…but I stopped. It was too painful, and I realized there was no point to bother the past."
Santana is grateful he came to his senses.
"I have a sense Brittany and Sam might've had a part in that…" She smiles a little, recalling how she asked their friends to take care of him.
"Britt told me things about her past. It made it easier for me…" Noah confesses and Santana's heart squeezes tighter knowing that Brittany made such an effort to support him.
"She helped me a lot and Sam, too. But you know he had it worse than us, so…I guess he just made me feel he had my back."
"Yeah…" Santana whispers, thinking of Sam and how his father treated him.
That man was a disgrace of a father.
There are scars on Sam's body attaching him to his past forever. But he is here now, surrounded by friends, though not entirely saved by the ghosts of his past. No surprise he is still in the closet. He was the one who first found love here, but it wasn't enough.
He wasn't brave enough for Kurt.
And Kurt still doesn't know about his father, the way he abused him. He almost beat him to death when Sam told him he was gay.
It's so sick and twisted that for a group of valids like them have suffered so much in this world which was created for them to have it easy, to be successful…to be happy.
They are meant to make it.
Santana is not, and she's lived her whole life knowing she is meant to have it hard. She has no idea how hard it is for Brittany, Quinn, Noah, Sam or Kurt to fail, even though they were all meant to succeed. For her, failure is implanted into her genes, but they are different.
They have to live their whole lives with the knowledge that they could have had it all.
They were meant to have it all.
But a certain moment came in all their lives that changed their fate. When Sam came out to his father, when Quinn and Noah slept together, when Brittany fell and broke her legs, everything in their lives changed.
Santana doesn't know which moment in her life was that certain moment…that changed everything.
When her grandmother told her to go on her deathbed, when she met Anita, when she first entered Schuester's office or the night she told everything to Quinn, Noah and Sam. Or maybe a moment that came later? Which certain moment is the one defining her whole life?
Could there be one at all?
"You know…" Noah cuts off her reminiscence and it takes a moment to get a hold on reality. "…isn't it strange that Brittany's only been here for like two months, but I can't really imagine our lives without her anymore?"
"Me neither." Santana sighs and it tells a lot more than words.
It's strange and not strange at all for her. Brittany has something that makes her feel like she's been here all along, with them, right from the beginning. But Santana is starting to realize everything would have turned out differently, if she had been really here.
"Yeah…I think she changed yours the most." Noah muses, and she can't argue.
Deep inside her heart, she wishes Brittany came into her life sooner. She wishes she came before she made the choice that's been haunting her ever since.
"She really did" She whispers, trying to hold back her emotions from breaking into the surface.
She is grateful for Noah's silence following her words. He just stays in line until Santana pulls herself together.
"I'm really glad you called." She tells him, with a faint smile.
"Me too." Noah replies. "Well, I guess I'll see you tomorrow Lopez."
"Good night, Noah." She sighs happily, because for her, it already is.
"You too, darling."
She doesn't wake up because of the pain in her hand for the first time this week.
She opens her eyes to the rays of sun licking her face warm, and stretches her limbs so far, her feet poke out from the thick comforter. She hasn't felt so good waking up in the morning for a long time. She yawns into her hand and drops it on the bed. Her throat tightens, when she suddenly remembers she has a date tonight.
A date or whatever.
The thought makes her feel fuzzy inside, excitement and fear lacing together, and forming a tight knot in the pit of her stomach.
She takes a look at her hand, and releases a relieved breath, it looks so much better now. It's almost perfectly healed. It's one less thing to worry about. It's one less thing to lie about, since Santana had to come up with one to tell Brittany when she asked what happened to her hand. She is not sure Brittany believed her lame excuse, but it doesn't matter now.
The only thing that matters is that they have a date tonight.
And Santana has no idea how she will survive it.
It's a slow day.
And it's the first day all five of them have lunch together this week. Since she and Noah made up, their little group has merged together again and it makes Santana feel so much better. But Brittany's presence at the table doesn't exactly make it easy for her to relax.
Santana can't stop thinking about their night.
It's bordering unhealthy. Her head is full of jarring questions, about what to wear, what to bring, how to behave. She is not even sure it constitutes a date for Brittany, but she is too far down the line to think about that. And of course Santana won't ask her, she is not crazy, or maybe just not that brave.
So she tries to mentally prepare for anything, and she is pretty sure she will make Quinn go crazy at home before she steps out of the apartment.
She doesn't make Quinn go crazy, or maybe just a little bit.
The hardest part comes though, when she is all dolled up and supposedly ready to leave, the most expensive bottle of wine she's ever bought in one hand and her fanciest clutch in the other, but she just can't bear herself to leave.
So much is at stake tonight.
If she screws up, it could mean the end. She has a feeling whatever happens tonight will define them. In her relationship with Brittany, she is fairly sure this night will bring one of those certain moments that's called fate.
She is driving along the coast, enjoying how the waves of the ocean catch the moonlight and sparkle in the darkness. Jazz music is filling her car as she is going down the empty road.
No rushing, just her on the road in the late Friday evening.
She chose this road instead of driving on the highway, because she wanted to be alone with her thoughts, without the noise and people around her. She wanted to linger in this moment, cherish it, she wanted to remember all the good things that happened to her since she met Brittany. She wanted to relive all the memories.
She wanted to remember the first time she kissed her, the first time she touched her and every time after. The first time she felt something for her. The moment she realized.
And the moment she gave up fighting it.
The thought's been forming inside her ever since. This is the right way, the only way and she was a fool to pretend there was another choice. She tried to convince herself that she was protecting Brittany from herself, that she was doing it for her sake.
But what a fool she was.
She is telling Brittany tonight.
She can almost see her house on the coast when something causes her to glance into the rearview mirror.
She frowns a little, and snaps her eyes back at the road.
It's just another car—but awfully similar to the one she saw the last time. There's nothing to worry about, she convinces herself, but her fingers still wrap around the wheel more tightly. The car is coming closer, closing the distance between them and her foot is pushing the pedal down with more force. She can't even explain why she is speeding up.
"It's just another car" She murmurs lowly to herself, like a mantra.
But her heart is already beating so loud it subdues the music filling her car.
It's just another car, until it isn't.
The realization sends a shiver down her spine.
"I can't believe this is happening." She gasps, panicked as fear overcomes her sanity.
She can't pull away, no matter how fast she goes, and the car is closing the gap on the road, cutting through the night sky as the death's dark horse. She is feeling it in her veins.
It is him.
It is Schuester.
Her horrible suspicion proves right minutes later when he looks her right in the eye through the mirror. It wasn't a coincidence at all. It is him and he is playing a cruel game with her.
He is catching up to her inch by inch, and she doesn't know what will happen.
"Fuck, fuck, fuck!" She whispers, trying to calm down even though she is close to throwing up from the fear.
Her knuckles go white as her fingers grip the wheel like she is holding onto dear life. She forces her eyes to stay on the road, even when Schuester's car nears her and they are driving beside each other.
She tries to tell herself if she pretends he is not there, he will vanish into thin air and she will wake up from this nightmare.
She can't pretend though, when he bumps her car and she jerks to the side, her grip slackening on the wheel causing her car to lose balance. Schuester uses her lapse in control to pass her.
She can barely see from the desperate tears that escaped her eyes. He forces her to slow down, and she prays to God he is just scaring her.
"Please don't stop" She whimpers, afraid for her life now. "Please"
She contemplates trying to pass him, or doing a U-turn, or crashing into him hard from behind, but she is too afraid. She is too afraid to even breathe. She knows she can't escape him. Sooner or later she has to face him.
When he slows down so much they barely move on the road, she knows the moment has come.
She wipes her tears before opening the door.
She is too proud to appear weak in front of him, even though she knows she is. She is weak, beaten, and she has to yield now. She has no other choice. She sniffs, and smooths her dress with trembling hands, before finding the handle and taking a deep breath.
"Please help me now" She murmurs her prayer, blinking towards the black sky, before she exits the car.
The chilly air makes her shiver. She stumbles closer to his car, careful not to fall in her high heels. The lazy waves of the ocean stand as a dreamy background to this horrible scene she's acting out with Schuester. He is leaning against the side of his car and she hates how casual he is acting.
He slowly turns his head to her, and raises his eyebrows.
"My, my…Miss Perez, you are really pretty tonight." He gives her a onceover, slowly and conspicuously stopping at her legs and her chest. "It's such a waste we only meet in my office for our dates."
Santana wraps her arms around her torso, tightly. She is shaking, feeling cold inside and out. She feels violated by him.
He reminds her of the occasions she has to throw her dignity into the trash and serve him. It makes her want to spit her insides out.
"What do you want from me?" She chokes out, with as much force as she can.
But her voice's never sounded more fragile.
She hates feeling weak.
"You know what I like…" Schuester shrugs arrogantly, and motions towards his lap. She can barely hold back the vomit threatening to come out. "I like you kneeling down in front of me and-"
"Shut up!" She shrieks, pathetically but it has no use.
He pushes himself off of the car and takes a step closer to her, making the hairs rise on her arms.
"I like to feel your wet tongue all over my-"
"Shut up!" She shouts at him again, and tears slide down her cheeks. She rushes to wipe them off, but he catches them.
"Do I sense right you're not in the mood tonight?" He tilts his head to the side, like he would care.
But he doesn't.
All he cares about is having his dick sucked, so once in his fucking pathetic life, he can feel powerful.
When Santana is kneeling on the floor, and he is pushing himself down her throat, that's the only time he can feel stronger than her.
The only fucking time he is someone.
"What do you want from me? Just spit it out!" She demands of him, too exhausted to bear his presence much longer.
She just wants to be over with it, whatever he wants from her.
"You've been a very bad girl lately…I was starting to get concerned" Schuester frowns thoughtfully, and she has an urge to launch herself at him and punch that frown off his disgusting face.
"So you were stalking me?" She shakes her head at him, still not quite able to believe what he's been doing.
"I was just having a bit of fun…not everybody's life can be as interesting as yours." He chuckles, amused by his own pathetic humor. "All right, I have to admit, I had a bit of a reason. Ever since I realized you are fucking Pierce-"
"I'm not fucking her" She cuts him off, narrowing her eyes in anger.
She is close to cracking.
"Well, what do you call it when it's two women? Obviously, it's not 'normal' sex between a man and a woman, but still, it might constitute as fucking" Schuester muses, and Santana feels her anger boiling her blood.
"You are disgusting" She spats at him, grossed out that she has to stand this close to him at all.
"And you are stupid." He widens his eyes threateningly and Santana takes a step back. "Don't you realize she's different than us?"
"There is no us, Schuester!" Santana shouts at him.
The bastard is crazy and she doesn't know what he is capable of. But she is starting to think she doesn't know what she is capable of either, if he makes her crack.
"Oh, there is." Schuester nods up and down slowly. "Or did you forget our little secret?"
"How could I possibly forget if you are stalking me?" Santana asks him, but she knows it's not the only reason she didn't forget.
She could never forget.
The first time in his office, when she offered to give him a blowjob instead of a blood sample. And all the other times when she gave up her morals for her shame of a life, full of these dirty secrets.
"Then I guess I was successful after all." Schuester's mouth turns into a sneer. "I just wanted to give you a little reminder that I'm here, in case you forgot. And I know everything about you and your friends, even your sweet innocent Brittany."
"If you even touch her with a finger, I swear to God, I will kill you!" She yells at him, staring right into his dark, empty eyes. "Do you understand? I will kill you."
She knows she would.
"I won't do anything if you come to your senses." Schuester shrugs like it's that easy, but Santana has no idea what the fuck he means by that.
"What the hell are you talking about?" She frowns at him.
"I don't want you to see her again." He says slowly, and Santana's breath hitches. "That's the only way to guarantee you won't tell her anything."
She can't believe he wants to deprave her of the only fucking good thing in her life now. Does she really have to give up everything? Every damn thing in her life?
This is not fair.
She shouldn't be the only one suffering from their secret.
"You only want me to lie, because you're afraid you'd be going down with me if our arrangement got out!" Santana looks at him, intimidatingly, but he doesn't waver under her penetrating stare.
"Don't fool yourself, Anita!" He smiles a little, shaking his head, and she feels she is missing something here, a detail that could be important. A piece of information he is hiding from her. "You are not the only one in my hands."
He must be lying, just to make her suffer more.
"I hate you." She chokes out the only thing she can think of.
"That's not true and you know it. You wouldn't be here without me."
As much as it pains Santana, his words are true. She hates this world for it, but mostly herself.
She thinks of Brittany. She should be with her by now. She should have told her by now.
A long time ago.
"If you hurt her" Her voice cracks from the images of a hurt Brittany in her head. "I won't care about my own life…I will find you anywhere."
"Oh, is that so? You have feelings for the girl, how romantic..." Schuester chuckles, and she bites down on her bottom lip to keep her screams inside. "Just imagine her face, if you told her you sucked my dick for a place in the program!"
She gasps, and a sob erupts from her throat, shaking her whole body.
"Fuck you" She whimpers, completely broken.
"All right, all right I won't remind you again. I guess you got enough of a lesson tonight, didn't you?" He asks, and she wishes he would disappear already.
"Just go, go away please" She whispers, forcing her eyes away.
She can't bear to look at him anymore. She can't bear to see her own mistakes reflected in his eyes, looking right back at her. She feels his eyes on her face, searching her gaze, but she knows she would make a mistake that would cost her life, if she took another look at him.
The silence that settles around them makes the ache in Santana's heart spread all over her chest, ripping her into little pieces. Schuester's stare is burning her face like a slap by his hand, but she barely feels anything now.
The only thing she truly feels is heartbreak.
"I hope you will be a good girl again." He tells her, before turning away and stepping to his car. She can hear the amusement in his voice. "Take care, Anita"
He says his last words before leaving her alone, on a dark, empty road, with her heart bleeding inside her chest.
It takes a last tremendous effort to get back into her car and call Quinn. Her voice is strangely calm and monotonous while she's asking for her help.
The tears only come when the call cuts off and the phone drops from her hand.
She's trembling with the force of her sobs erupting right from her core. It seems like hours she can't stop. She is falling apart. The life she's built around herself is falling into pieces and she can do nothing about it.
The tears drain after what seems like eternity, but the hollowness inside her chest remains.
"Oh my God" Quinn gasps, when she opens the door of Santana's car.
Santana can't stop staring out of the window on the other side. Her tears are flowing down her cheeks again, but she is too tired to wipe them off. She doesn't care anymore. She just wants to go home.
"San, what happened?" Noah's voice hit her ear, and a second later she feels his rough hand touching her cheek with unusual gentleness.
He turns her face towards them, and they look back at her with panicked and horrified eyes.
"Santana, are you okay? Please talk to us" Quinn begs her tearfully.
"Did someone hurt you?" Noah spits the words out, and Santana can see the veins pulsating on her neck. "I swear I will beat the living shit out of them!"
She slowly shakes her head at them.
"Please, San" Quinn crouches down beside the car, and takes her hand. It is warm, and it feels good to hold onto. "Just say something, please?
She searches her eyes, but Santana knows they must seem dead—just like she is feeling inside.
"Take me home" She whispers.
Quinn squeezes her hand softly, and nods before standing up.
"Noah, help me pick her up."
"I got her" Noah leans down, and makes a huge effort to pick her up without any help from her slack body.
When he touches her, she wraps her arm around his neck and buries her head into him. She starts shaking, and his grip tightens. The last thing she feels is his lips kissing her hair, while she starts sobbing into his chest.
Then everything turns black.
She stirs awake, when they try to enter her room.
"Sorry" Noah whispers into her ear, going inside after Quinn opens the door.
He places her gently on the bed, and she curls into herself, already missing him.
"Stay please." She grabs his shirt when he starts to pull away.
"Okay" He smiles a little, and she fusses backwards on the bed to make room for him.
He climbs on the bed, and settles comfortably, before inviting her to lay her head on his chest. She wraps an around his torso, and he kisses her forehead.
Quinn clears her throat delicately, when Santana almost falls asleep again.
"I'm gonna be in-"
"You too." Santana cuts her off and reaches for her.
Quinn smiles at her, and nods before circling the bed to settle on her other side.
"I'm here." She whispers into Santana's ear from behind.
Santana looks at her above her shoulder, and it makes Quinn come closer and wrap her hand shyly around her stomach. Santana takes her hand and squeezes it tight, before turning back to rest her head on Noah.
She falls asleep again, surrounded by the only good thing she has yet to lose in her life, her friends' love.
Noah isn't there when she wakes up.
"He watched you sleep for hours." Quinn tells Santana when she starts to panic, searching for him frantically. "I sent him home." Quinn explains, before pulling her back to her embrace.
She is so warm.
She is so soft and warm it hurts.
Because it reminds Santana of someone else she just lost.
"Santana, sweetheart…it's almost noon." Quinn whispers into her ear, when she is half-conscious some time later.
"I don't want to wake up." She murmurs, and pushes her face to the pillow.
Quinn strokes her arm, and her soothing touch really doesn't help Santana wake up.
"Please, I'll make you a hot bath." She tries to convince her, and Santana has to admit it's a tempting idea. "Then we could talk, if you want." Quinn tells her carefully, but her words still make Santana's eyes snap open.
She turns to look at her, and tries to convey how much she would hate to recall the events of last night so soon. She is too weak now.
"We don't have to…" Quinn smiles sadly, squeezing her arm, and Santana nods.
"Okay" She whispers, and then Quinn leans in to kiss her forehead.
She leaves her alone for the first time since last night. It makes Santana grip the sheets tighter in her fist. She pushes her face into the pillow and breathes into it. She wishes she could stay in bed forever.
"I'll be outside if you need anything" Quinn strokes her back, and waits for her nod.
They are standing beside the bathtub, full of hot water, and she is staring into the white foam. It looks so nice. It will feel good.
But it won't wash the dirt off.
"I don't want to be alone." Santana whispers sadly.
Quinn's hand stops moving, and Santana can see the wheels turning in her brain.
"I'll stay then."
She turns away, while Santana undresses herself but she dares a glance at her when she still doesn't get into the water.
"Do you need help?" She asks delicately, and Santana looks her in the eye.
Quinn's expression falls, and that's when Santana realizes she's started to cry again.
"Sweetie" Quinn whispers quietly, and turns to wrap her arm around her naked back.
Santana lets her hold her, and her tears damp Quinn's shirt on her shoulder. When she pulls away, releasing a ragged breath, Quinn's eyes wander down her body for a split second but she blinks away instantly.
"Am I ugly?" Santana whispers quietly into the heavy silence.
Quinn turns her eyes back at her, and shakes her head slowly. She cups Santana's chin and smiles at her.
"You are too beautiful."
Brittany calls in the afternoon.
Quinn takes it.
"Brittany, hi, yeah, it's Quinn" Her voice is an octave higher than she usually speaks.
Santana watches her expression changing while Brittany speaks. She is sitting on the couch, wrapped in a fluffy bathrobe, and a half empty plate sits in front of her on the table. She could barely force a few bites down her throat, and now it's threatening to come up again.
"I…" Quinn's mouth hangs agape before she suddenly pulls the phone away from her ear. "She wants to talk to you."
"I can't…" Santana whispers.
Talking to Brittany is the last thing she can do now. She wants to, more than anything, to explain everything, but she can't.
"Brittany, I'm afraid she can't." Quinn shakes her head, and looks like she is in physical pain. "She doesn't want to talk to anyone."
Santana waits eagerly for what's to come.
"She…no, no, she is fine." Quinn rushes to inform Brittany and Santana's heart breaks imagining Brittany's worried face.
She must have been really worried. She must have called, but Santana didn't even check. She was afraid to check. She was afraid to face her. But it is not fair to avoid Brittany.
None of this is fucking fair to her.
"Britt, please don't make this harder for me." Quinn pleads, and Santana feels bad for making her do this. But she is too weak, she couldn't survive talking to Brittany now.
She motions to Quinn that she wants to say something.
"Please give me a second" Quinn asks of Brittany, before pulling away from the phone.
"Tell her I want her to leave me alone and we should stay away from each other." Santana whispers to Quinn, who looks at her like she's gone crazy.
"I won't" She tells her firmly, covering the phone with her palm.
"Quinn, please" Santana begs and Quinn snaps her eyes away.
She takes a second to consider her options, and Santana releases a deep breath when she brings the phone back to her ear.
"Yes, she is here with me…" She tells Brittany, eyes closed with a frown ruining her gorgeous face. "She…she wants you to leave her alone…" She looks like she is about to cry.
Santana is crying already, the disappointment and sadness Brittany might be feeling now squeezing her heart.
"Please, just give her time" Quinn tells Brittany, while opening her eyes to look at Santana again. "I know Britt…I'm sorry, but I don't know if it's a good idea."
She listens to Brittany, and a few seconds later she takes the phone away again.
"She wants to tell you something…she is begging you." Quinn tells Santana, and Santana bites down on her bottom lip hard, before nodding.
Quinn puts the Brittany on speaker and stares at the floor.
"She can hear you now, Britt."
Santana has to push her hand to her mouth to silence her sobs.
"Are you here? I hope you can hear me…" Brittany says quietly, her voice full of sorrow, and Santana pulls her knees up to rest her head on them, while listening to Brittany's breathing. "I just want you to know I'm really mad at you." Santana nods up and down, like Brittany can see her. "I've never met someone who is fighting so hard against their own happiness, but I won't let you go…" Santana gasps when Brittany voice cracks, as she starts crying too. "…because I have feelings for you and I know you have for me too."
"I do" Santana whispers inaudibly.
"…and I just wanted to tell you I'll be here…" Brittany lets out a heartbreaking little whimper. "…when you're ready."
They both cry in silence for seconds, before the call cuts off. Santana raises her eyes to look at Quinn, when she trusts herself not to fall apart completely.
"I'm sorry." She mouths almost inaudibly, and Quinn tries to blink a tear away.
She fails, and it slides down her cheek.
"Me too." She shakes her head, before rushing to Santana to hug her.
Santana knows she is sorry for all the things that make her fight against her own happiness.
She dreams about Brittany.
It makes her crack.
Something breaks inside her completely, and irrevocably.
It feels like hours that she spends sitting at her desk, in complete silence, trying to write the first sentence.
It's been a long time since she last wrote a letter. She wrote to her grandfather. Dozens of letters to him are hidden in the top drawer. She's never sent them.
She won't send the letter she is trying to write now.
She will give it to Brittany on the 21th of June, the day of the mission launch. She can only hope her words will mean something to her then.
Because Santana knows she will still feel the same.
My name is Santana Lopez…
…I'm falling in love with you…