Chapter 17

Much later she wasn't sure if she could remember it at all.

She would sit in her bedroom and stare at the photo until she wasn't sure if it was a real memory at all. If any of it had ever really happened. Maybe, she thought, if she'd just stare at the photo hard enough for long enough, she would be sure the memories were real and that everything happened exactly as she remembered it.

She remembered sitting on the floor in front of the bed, watching as her grandmother moved to the closet and then back towards where she was sitting. The carpet smelled like dust and carpet cleaner. She remembered the way she tugged her legs underneath her and sat up a little straighter when her abuela sat down on the bed. She still had the purple stuffed bunny that she used to carry around everywhere, so she must have been four or five.

She sat by her abuela's feet, her hand reaching up to take the fine gold necklace, a small crucifix hanging from it.

She remembered that her abuela's feet reminded her of a ballerina's. Like her hands, they were small and elegant. Her abuela always sat up straight. She said that a lady's posture was important.

Her hands were cold when she handed Santana the necklace, she remembered. Her hands were always cold. She gave her the small gold necklace before wrapping her hands around Santana's.

They were sitting like that in the photograph. Santana on the floor and her abuela on the edge of the bed; her hands wrapped around Santana's. Her abuela was smiling at her, both of them seemingly unaware of the camera.

It became a ritual. It was their ritual. Every Christmas Eve her abuela would take out the small necklace and Santana would wait patiently for her to hand it over. It was her mother's, her abuela told her. She would hand it to Santana and tell her that one day, it would be hers and then she would show it to her children and grandchildren.

They sat together at Mass. They always sat together at Mass. Her abuela on her right side, her father on her left. In the space between them, her abuela's hand would lightly rest on top of hers.

The last time they sat like that Santana was seventeen. Her neck felt bare without the necklace. She tried to count how many Christmases she'd sat there, wearing her grandmother's cross. Next to her, her abuela sat almost impossibly stiff, her eyes not leaving the figure of Christ for a second. Her abuela had become mute, deaf, who talked over her and looked through her.

She sat in silence, all too aware of the unnatural distance her grandmother kept between their seats, and wondered how many times, how long, how hard, she'd have to pray for something to happen. She wondered if perhaps she ought to try.

But then again, she thought, looking at the way the figure of Christ was bent slightly forward, his head hanging, she wouldn't even know where to begin and what to ask for. She thought of the photo – she'd taken it out of the album and now kept it in her dresser – and realized that suddenly, she couldn't remember what that felt like, when everything was still okay. Everything seemed hazy, as though it had been a dream that she could now only remember fragments of. She wondered if her grandmother ever softly sang to her before bed. If she really smelled like mints and shampoo, and if she ever held Santana's hand tightly when they crossed the street. Maybe, like the memory of the photograph, she might have imagined it all.

She sat there, quietly listening to her abuela's rhythmic breathing. From the corner of her eye, she saw the fine cross around her neck. Santana didn't know then that by the next Christmas she wouldn't be there at all. The next Christmas she would be doing body shots off strangers on the counter of a dark and dingy bar. Strangers who, like her, most likely wanted, needed, to forget, if only just for a day.

Santana repositioned her hands to try and avoid the fir tree branches scratching her. "You wanna take a quick break? These fucking branches are hurting me," she said as she lowered the top of the tree to the ground and leaned against the wall, a little out of breath. "Remind me again why we are carrying this thing up to the apartment ourselves?"

"Kurt and Rachel have their own set of reasons for not helping," Brittany said as her head appeared from behind the green branches, "but my reason is that if they had helped they would have ended up taking over and I'm very particular about the kind of tree I want. Plus, Kurt is an authoritarian when it comes to things like this." Brittany stepped over the tree and sank to the ground next to Santana. "I asked the guy with the dirty hair in 309 if he could help us carry it but he said he was busy this morning. Not that that matters, because I don't think he would have been much help. He said to call him if I needed help with my bush later and if you don't even know the difference between a Christmas tree and a Christmas bush then I don't think you'll be of much help."

Santana's head shot up. "What?!"

"Yeah, I know, right?" Brittany replied with a shake of her head. "I don't think you even get Christmas bushes outside of Canada, so good luck trying to find one."

"Britt," Santana paused a second, making a quick mental note to have a word with the guy when she next ran into him, "you really shouldn't talk to that guy."

"Yeah, whatever. Come on," she said, motioning to the tree with her head, "let's go before Rachel sends out a search party."

Santana sighed and walked back to where the tree laid in the middle of the hallway. "I'm serious though," she said as Brittany picked up the opposite end and she slowly started to take steps backwards, occasionally glancing over her shoulder to make sure she wouldn't bump into anything. "Britt, you really shouldn't talk to -"

The force of Brittany letting go of her end of the tree and jumping back caused her to stumble back a few steps. "What the -" One hand still awkwardly holding onto one half of the eight foot Christmas tree, she used her other hand to steady herself against the wall. She looked over to where Brittany was now standing a few feet away from the tree, staring intently at something behind Santana.

"Britt, what are you doing?" she asked, not even trying to keep the annoyance from her voice.

"There," Brittany said, her eyes not moving as she raised a finger to point out a spot behind Santana.

Santana sighed as she put down the tree again – this must have been the seventh time they had stopped since entering the building – and turned around. "What?" she asked bluntly. "I don't see anything."

"A cat," Brittany whispered and took a tentative step closer to Santana.


"A cat," Brittany repeated as she slowly bent down to her knees and looked down the passageway. "It just ran across the hall."

"So?" Santana asked with a quirk of her brow. "It probably belongs to that weird lady with the hair who lives on the third floor. It sometimes gets out and then makes a run for the trash chute. Come on," she said and turned around to pick up the tree again.

She stopped when she felt Brittany's hand on her shoulder. "I don't understand how you're so calm right now," Brittany said seriously. "That was a cat, Santana."

She signed and turned around to face Brittany. "Yes, it was a cat, Britt. And you love cats, remember?"

"Yes, but that was a black cat," Brittany said slowly, carefully emphasizing each word.

She narrowed her eyes for a second before she understood. "Oh, for god's sake, Britt. It will be fine, I promise."

"But -" Brittany started.

"Come on," she cut her off and took her hand, leading her away from the passage into which the cat seemed to have disappeared. "We'll throw some salt on Kurt when we get upstairs or something."

Brittany stopped in her tracks. "It's not funny."

"I'm sorry, okay?"

"I don't like it when you make fun of me."

"I wasn't," she shook her head at the accusing glance Brittany shot her. "Look, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make fun of you, but it was just a cat, okay? She runs around here all the time and nothing ever happens." She smiled when Brittany's mouth curved into a hint of a smile. "Unless you count Berry's pre-dawn vocal exercises, which isn't something I'd wish on anybody."

"You promise?"

"I promise," she said and tucked a loose strand of hair behind Brittany's ear. "Now let's go before we break a mirror or something."

They managed to get the tree to their apartment door with only two more stops. One because Brittany thought that she might have lost her phone and wanted to check first and another because Santana saw the dirty haired guy from 309 and wanted to have a quick word with him.

Rachel opened the front door wearing a bright red apron with a green reindeer on the front. She gave a couple of steps backwards to allow Brittany and Santana through the door. "Santana, you might want to lift that side a little higher when you go through the door or it might get scratched."

"Berry, you might want to shut your mouth when I go through the door or it might get scratched."

"No need for violence, Santana," Kurt called from where he was sitting in the living room, going through what looked like a bag of old Christmas decorations.

"Fuck," Santana exclaimed when she finally sank down on the couch. "Remind me again why you guys stayed at home while we were out lugging a hundred pound Christmas tree around?"

"Rachel says that ever since you lied about the bacon in the tofu salad three Thanksgivings ago you can't be trusted with any festive meals," Kurt said, pointing to the kitchen where Rachel was busy with some vegan dish that Santana was sure she wouldn't eat. "And I have my tennis elbow. But don't despair, I brought decorations, so you guys don't have to do anything else but sit back, relax and watch as I transform this apartment into a charming piece of pre-Christmas heaven."

"No, no, no way!" Santana said quickly. "We lugged it up here, so we get to decorate it."

"What?" Kurt looked around the room, slightly baffled. "But I've been working out the color scheme for this year's tree since October. I thought," he said with an excited squeal and threw out the contents of the bag he was holding on the coffee table, "we'd do a fusion tree and mix up some old with some new. I got decorations and thought we'd shake things up with fuchsia and a deep orange."

"No. No, absolutely not," Santana pulled a disgusted face as she looked at the orange and purple decorations on the coffee table in front of her. "We bought the tree, we carried it here, we lost three hours of our lives trying to get it up to the apartment without losing eyes or any vital organs, so we get to decide how it will be decorated. And I think that good old fashioned green, gold and red are going to be just fine."

"But -" Kurt started and Santana was sure that she heard Brittany softly mutter authoritarian under her breath.

"Quiet!" Santana cut him off. "You have your own home to decorate in whichever way you like. And you still have a whole week until Christmas, so feel free to take your decorations, go get yourself a bonsai or whatever structure you feel is alternative enough to be worthy of your bohemian attention and leave the rest of us in peace."

"That's your problem, Santana," Kurt said as he angrily put the decorations back into the bag. "You're short sighted and that is why you will never be a trendsetter."

"Your jealousy does not affect me, Kurt," Santana shrugged.

Kurt spent the rest of the afternoon in the kitchen with Rachel and occasionally would walk into the living room, look at Santana and Brittany decorating the tree, and mumble a couple of incoherent words. A steady flow of wine seemed to help his mood however, because by early evening he cheerfully complemented Santana on the way that her ornaments were very well spaced.

"So what adventures does this festive time hold for you, Santana?" Rachel asked as she finally emerged from the kitchen and sat down.

"What do you mean, Rachel?" Kurt asked smugly and spread the fingers of both his hands to imitate claws. "She's obviously going to go down to Who-ville. Can't you hear her fingers nervously drumming? She must find some way to stop Christmas from coming!"

"Santana would never do that," Brittany said and gave Kurt an irritated look.

"Thanks, Britt," Santana said softly. She glanced around the room, looking for a way out of Rachel's question. But Rachel was sitting on the chair opposite her, hands neatly folded in her lap, and looking at Santana expectantly. "My folks are on their way to my uncle's," she finally said with a little cough, "so I'll just wait here, I mean hang around until ..." She briefly thought of Christmases in bars. Doing shots while Christmas carols played somewhere in the distance. Being woken up by church bells on Christmas morning and stumbling towards the kitchen to find Advil and a beer. "Yeah, so I guess I'll just be around until they get to my uncle's and then go and meet them there. Like on Christmas Eve or whatever."

Santana got up from the couch, looking around for something that would allow her to change the topic. "Where'd you put the wine?"

"Is this the uncle that your grandmother is staying with?" Rachel asked before adding, "And it's Christmas not New Year's. You know the rules, Santana."

"Yeah," she nodded quickly. "Christmas is like more than a week away. Are you really going to make me suffer through this night without any alcohol?"

"Getting drunk tonight really goes against everything that the festive times represent."

"Oh my God, Berry, getting drunkis everything that the festive times represent."

"So will you drive down with your mom and -" Rachel started again.

"Seriously," Santana threw her hands in the air, "where are all of those bottles of wine I bought?"

"In the kitchen," Brittany said and Santana didn't fail to notice the way her eyes were slightly narrowed when she looked at her. "I'll go get them." Brittany stared at Santana for a moment longer, her eyes silently questioning, before she quickly got up and disappeared into the kitchen.

It was the Christmas after Brittany got her first bra.

Santana had kissed a lanky boy named Jake at Quinn's twelfth birthday party.

During the early hours of a sleepover Santana had turned around and her breath became shallow when the back of her hand brushed against the exposed skin of Brittany's thigh.

They had spent hours talking about all the boys they would date when they went to high school and it made Santana feel inexplicably sad.

When she heard the doorbell on Christmas Eve morning Santana knew it was Brittany because of the way she always rang the doorbell twice. Brittany stood on their doorstep with a present, clumsily wrapped in green Christmas tree paper, in her hands. She smiled broadly when Santana opened the door and wordlessly held out the gift, a slight blush creeping across her cheeks.

"For me?" Santana asked, despite the firm knowledge that the gift was quite obviously meant for her.

"Yeah," Brittany nodded. "It's a CD." She paused, frowning. "I didn't mean to tell you that. Sorry."

"Thank you," she said, leaning forward for a hug. When Brittany's body pressed against hers, a palm placed firmly on Santana's lower back, Santana dipped her head forward, and for a second, let her head rest in the crook of Brittany's neck.

Brittany used to smell like grass and candy and the laundry detergent her mom used. Now she smelled differently, like things Santana didn't know but desperately wanted to know, and she liked it.

"I have to go," Brittany said as she started to pull away. Her breath against Santana's ear made her shiver but if Brittany noticed she didn't let anything on. "I'm going to try and take a picture of Santa when he comes tonight. I borrowed my cousin's camera and I'm going to hide behind the couch."

"Good luck," she said and her voice was a little shakier than she had meant for it to be. She felt flustered, the smell of Brittany still lingering.

Brittany nodded. "Yeah, if I get a good one I'm going to sell it to the New York Times and maybe I'll buy us both horses."

She wanted to hug Brittany again. To pull her close and stand there, with her face buried in the crook of Brittany's neck and listen to her talk about all of the silly things that only Brittany could ever think of. But she simply returned Brittany's smile and said, "You don't have to do that, Britt."

"No, I want to. I'm calling mine Sparkles, but you don't have to worry," Brittany said, and Santana got the feeling that she might have put some thought into this. "I'll get us riding lessons so that we don't fall or anything. We could ride them to school and then just tie them to the bleachers."

Santana stood quietly in the door, her thumbs running over the back of the gift in her hands. From somewhere in the house she could hear her dad and abuela talking, the smell of cinnamon drifting through the kitchen and living room. She stood quietly, watching the way Brittany's chest rose and fell with every breath.

"Merry Christmas, Santana," Brittany eventually said.

"Merry Christmas, Britt," she replied, and because Brittany had already turned around and she wasn't sure if she'd still be able to hear her, she added a soft, "Come back soon."

The next time Brittany stood on her doorstep on Christmas Eve they were in junior high. She opened the door and Brittany stood there, smiling.

She ignored her father's call from the kitchen, wanting to know who was at the door. Brittany stepped forward for a hug and Santana realized too late that her hand was too low on Brittany's back, her sigh audible as she inhaled the smell of her hair. She pushed her body into Brittany's too hard.

"I was wondering -" Brittany spoke without breaking the hug and when her breath hit the shell of Santana's ear she felt something she didn't feel when Puck had slipped his hand under her bra and asked if she wanted to find an open room at Mike Chang's birthday party.

"You should go," Santana said and pulled away. "It's Christmas Eve, my family is waiting." She looked down and willed away images of Brittany in the shower after cheerleading practice. The memory of Brittany's fingers casually lingering on her bare shoulder as Santana explained conjugated verbs. Brittany's body pushing against hers, her arms wrapped around Santana's waist, as she tried to pull her close in Quinn's swimming pool the previous summer. "You should go," she repeated and she was surprised by the harshness in her own tone.

Brittany gave her a slight nod but remained quiet. She held out the gift she had been holding in her hands and without so much as a smile, Santana took the gift, turned around and closed the door.

Later that night she quietly tiptoed down the stairs and snuck out the door. She'd been doing that more and more over the past year. Sneaking out and then sneaking back just before dawn.

She would run the two miles to Brittany's house and wait until Brittany sleepily opened the door, entwined their fingers and led them to her room. Brittany never asked why she was there and she never offered any explanation.

On Christmas Eve of their freshmen year in high school Brittany didn't ask and Santana didn't explain. She laid there, still, listening to Brittany's sleepy breathing. She didn't sleep. She never did. It was only an hour or so before she knew she had to sneak back, that she turned over and brushed her hand against the skin of Brittany's thigh.

Her breathing became shallow and erratic – it often did nowadays – as she waited patiently for a couple of seconds. Waiting, before she would turn around again, knowing that Brittany's exposed leg would be there. That her hand would graze the milky skin again. That sometimes Brittany's top would have crept up a little to reveal defined stomach muscles.

Later she would wonder if she slipped up somehow. If perhaps she lingered a little too long, let her hand move a little too high. Maybe Brittany heard her breathing or had noticed the way Santana always seemed to turn so that their legs touched or their arms grazed.

When she turned again Brittany's mouth was there, waiting. Her lips closed against Santana's hesitantly, softly. Santana froze for a moment before she let her hand move up, gently placing it on Brittany's thigh and then, gaining more courage, parted her lips and let Brittany in.

Santana had chased Kurt away from the couch shortly after they had dinner. It made no sense, she said, for either Kurt or Rachel to sit on it. They were sad and single and thus needed to sit on the chairs, leaving the couch to herself and Brittany. Rachel tried to protest briefly by insisting that she was neither sad nor single, but gave up when Santana threatened to take away her morning shower singing privileges.

Santana now sat on the edge of the couch holding up the envelope that Rachel had handed her with a beaming smile. Eyeing Rachel suspiciously she looked around to see if some part of the gift might have fallen off or have been left under the tree. But there was nothing.

She looked back down at the card she was holding. In big curly letters Rachel had written To my friend and confidante, Santana on the front of the envelope. "It's a card," Santana stated, looking at Rachel questioningly.

"Open it," Rachel replied excitedly.

Santana gave her a distrusting look before slowly opening the envelope and taking the card out. Rachel clapped her hand excitedly as Santana opened the card. "It says 'I love you,'" Santana said after reading the single line that was scribbled inside the card twice.

"Yes," Rachel shook her head triumphantly and moved a little closer to the edge of her seat.

"And?" Santana asked annoyed, holding the card up in the air.

Rachel looked confused. "And what?"

Santana groaned and sank back into the couch. "And where the fuck is the rest of the present?"

Rachel frowned and pointed to the card hesitantly. "That is your present, Santana."

"This is my present?" Santana asked slowly and handed the card to Brittany, who was sitting next to her, playing with an old broken xylophone.

"It is, Santana," Rachel said firmly, "And I believe the appropriate respond would be 'thank you.'"

"What? No. What the fuck, Berry? Kurt gets you a goddamned backstage pass to fucking Funny Fanny or whatever the fuck it's called and you give me a fucking 'I love you'? That's total bullshit."

"That may be your opinion, Santana, and may I just say that I find it in extremely poor taste to criticize a gift that was given to you with an open heart."

"I'd have preferred an open wallet, thank you," she replied and angrily put the card back in the envelope before throwing it onto the coffee table.

"As I was saying," Rachel said and straightened her back a bit, "regardless of your insistence on emphasizing the material aspect of the season, I've decided that I will no longer be a slave to our times. I refuse to impose generic mass produced gifts upon my friends. Instead, I choose to give you my love, to give you a piece of myself."

"Gross," Brittany mumbled and hit an off key note on the xylophone.

"If you don't take that, I will," Kurt warned Santana, pointing to the instrument in Brittany's hands.

"I'm creating ambiance," Brittany said with a shrug.

"But you know what, Santana? If you'd rather I give you some poorly thought out piece of plastic from mainland China, then I'm fine with that."

"Actually I was thinking more along the lines of a piece of leather, preferably shaped like a shoe or a handbag, from mainland Paris," Santana said as she poured herself another glass of wine.

"Kurt!" Rachel gritted through her teeth as though she thought this was an appropriate time for him to step in and support her.

"Well, Rachel, to be fair, Britt did give me a lovely second hand xylophone, which," he said and shot a puzzled look to where Brittany was sitting on the couch with the instrument on her lap, "she also seemed to have taken back two seconds after giving it to me, and this lovely 'World's Best Mom' mug." He held up the mug that Brittany had proudly handed over a while before. "I suppose Santana would have liked a 'World's Best Mom' mug as well."

"That is exactly my point! Brittany gave you an old Mother's day gift!" Rachel protested.

Brittany snorted, "You're such a gender conformist."

"At least she went to the trouble of getting him something," Santana interjected.

"Well, I am sorry if my gift does not live up to your standards, Santana," Rachel said, getting up and collecting the empty glasses that had gathered on the coffee table. "Like I said, I was trying to make a point. I was simply trying to show how, despite the fact that we all come from different religious backgrounds, essentially we all pray to the same deity. We all worship Mammon and I saw this gift as an act of protest. A critical intervention into the way that we have come to celebrate love and peace." She set down the wine glasses that she'd been holding and took a step closer to Santana. Her voice was soft and cold when she continued, "And if you cannot appreciate my love, if you are too immature to recognize what I'm trying to do here, and importantly, to reciprocate, then I feel sorry for you."

Kurt gave a chuckle. "Rach, you know she's taken, right?"

Rachel turned around to face him slowly. "You find this funny, too?"

"You have to admit that it's a little funny," Kurt said.

Rachel adamantly shook her head. "I do not see a single trace of humor in what just took place. All I can see is my dignity and feelings, ripped to shreds, scattered on the floor and stepped on by Santana's designer shoes."

"Oh, come on, Rachel. You're being very melodramatic," Kurt said and reached over to fill his mug with wine. He took a sip before he continued. "Have you ever met Santana? You seriously thought you were going to give her an 'I love you' card for Christmas and she was going to tear up and say that she loves you, too?"

"I thought that," Rachel said with a sniffle, "at the very least, I would make a statement. A statement that would have been appreciated by my loved ones."

"A pair of Manolo Blahniks would have made a statement," Santana said, pulling Brittany's legs onto her lap. "Just saying."

"See what I mean?" Kurt asked and waved his hand in Santana's direction. "Santana is one of the most superficial and selfish people that we know."

Santana felt Brittany's body tense as she raised the mallet she'd been playing with and pointed it towards Kurt. "It's true, Britt," Santana shrugged and placed a hand on her knee.

"What I'm trying to say, Rachel," Kurt tried again, "is that I'm just not sure that Santana was the best person to be on the receiving end of your 'statement.'"

"Well," Rachel said through pursed lips, "at least now I know who my real friends are. Quite clearly I made an enormous mistake in assuming that you would not only be able to interpret the intervention I was staging here tonight but would also be able to appreciate it for the statement and the display of affection that it was."

"Rachel, all I was saying was that Santana might have -"

"I'm not interested in your excuses, Kurt."

"If you would just take a moment and listen -"

"I don't need your condescending pity."

"I just -"

Santana's head shot up when Brittany loudly banged on the xylophone. She waited until Rachel and Kurt had also turned their attention towards her before she spoke. "If you guys are just going to fight and argue about this all night then I'm going to leave right now. And I'm going to convince Santana to come with me and she will because she likes me better than she likes the two of you. Santa Clause's birthday only comes around once a year -"

"Christmas isn't Santa's birthday, Britt," Kurt said casually, taking a sip of wine from his new 'Best Mom' mug.

Brittany slowly stood up and walked towards Kurt. She stood in front of him, hands on her hips. "I get that you have the right to not be religious, Kurt, but please don't force your beliefs, or your lack of beliefs, onto the rest of us."

"What?" Kurt shot Santana a confused look. "No, Britt, I just -"

"I don't want to hear it," Brittany said and shook her head viciously. "Rachel, I can't say that I'm surprised that you did this, because this is the type of thing that I've learned to expect of you. But tomorrow you need to go out and get Santana a gift card or something. And stop making moves on her." She waited until Rachel silently nodded. "Kurt, like I said, we like having you here, but please respect our right to celebrate the birth of a man who could give us coal and yet comes through for each and every single year. It's the least you can do."

Sitting on the floor in front of the coffee table, Santana picked up a couple of bottles until she finally found one that wasn't completely empty and tipped it to pour the last few drops of wine into her glass. On the couch next to her, Brittany was seemingly fast asleep as a slightly tipsy Rachel – who seemed to have forgotten her earlier resolution never to speak to either Brittany or Santana again – sat next to her, softly humming Jingle Bell Rock.

"Okay, I have my leftover hummus, I have my cupcake stand, and I'm off," Kurt said as he re-emerged from the kitchen. "Oh, wait. Where are my decorations?"

"What?" Santana asked confused.

"The decorations that I brought," Kurt said as he picked up his bag from next to his chair. "I thought that, since my talents aren't valued here I might as well get a small tree at my place. Spread the joy, you know?"

"Yeah, you're gonna have to find new ways to spread your joy because I threw them out."

"You did what?" Kurt exclaimed and looked as though he might start crying, "Santana, why would you do that? Do you know I long it took me to find those?"

"Okay, first of all, you need to lower your voice 'cause you're gonna wake up Britt. And second of all, I did you a favor. Those things were hideous and I was just saving Future Kurt from having to look back at photos of this year's Christmas and being overcome by an overwhelming sense of shame and the need to supply all of us with epilepsy meds. Because you know that no normal person would have been able to look at that color catastrophe and not have some sort of fit." She drank the last bit of wine and put her glass down on the table. "You're welcome."

"So you just threw them out?" Kurt asked blankly.

"Keep your voice down and relax. I put them out on the sidewalk because I figured that homeless people might want to have Christmas decorations, too."

"What? Go get them. I'm serious, Santana. Go!" Kurt said and sat back down. He crossed his arms in front of his chest and impatiently tapped his foot.

"You know what?" Santana said in an angry whisper. "Fine! I'll go get your stupid retro Christmas shit. I have no idea why you brought it here in the first place."

"He's a decoration Nazi," Brittany sleepily mumbled from the couch.

"See? Now you fucking woke her," Santana hissed before she angrily stomped out the door.

She glanced at the time on her cell phone when she reached the ground floor and saw that it was a little after two. She quickly made her way out and picked up the bag of decorations that was still lying exactly where she had left it. Quickly checking that nobody was there watching she also picked up what looked like a banana peel and threw it into the bag.

The building was quiet but for her footsteps when she walked back in. Taking her time she walked up the stairs, dragging the bag of decorations behind her. She froze for a second when she felt something softly brush against her legs. She dropped the bag and swore under her breath when she saw a brief flash of yellowish eyes and only then realized that it was the cat from early this afternoon, standing between her legs and the wall.

It stood there for a couple of seconds, looking straight at her, before slowly walking forward and then disappearing down the hall. Santana stared at the spot where the cat had been moments before, then picked up the bag again and quickly headed back upstairs.