A/N: Hey hey! Alrighty y'all, I was planning on this being the last chapter... But it ended up way longer than expected so I cut the original ending for it that I planned and I'm going to add at least one more chapter, maybe two, and definitely do an epilogue at the end. Thank you fabulous people for sticking with me! I would love some feedback after this one - should I keep it going a little longer? What do you want to see before the end? Anyways, you're all the bestest evererer. I hope you enjoy how I wrap up this little conflict. :)
Disclaimer: I don't own Glee :(
The New Directions sat in a circle on the stage, the trophy in the middle. They spoke among themselves in hushed voices, waiting for their director to swoop in with a pep talk and a rally for nationals. After a weekend of basking in their fame, some of the glory had calmed down, but the room still buzzed with the excitement.
"We're going to nationals!" Santana giggled, leaning into her girlfriend's side. The two girls had spent the weekend watching Sweet Valley High and snuggling at Brittany's, not talking much about their regionals win, the performance, or even the events leading up to it. They knew that it was coming, sooner rather than later, but at the time it was enough to ignore it and focus on being together.
The blonde bent her head down, pressing a sweet kiss into her girlfriend's curled, raven locks. "I'm so excited, Sanny!" she giggled, "We're gonna be in Chicago together and we're totally gonna win this year!"
"Hell yeah we're gonna win this year!" Puck exclaimed after overhearing Brittany. "We're gonna kick Vocal Adrenaline square in the balls!"
Santana and Brittany laughed and cheered with the others, Finn and Rory hollering in agreement. The noise faded for a moment, but then Sugar spoke up.
"Hey, where's Artie?" She asked in her signature, far off tone. Santana looked around, noting for the first time today that the bitter boy wasn't to be found; no one else had an answer, but they didn't have to wait for long. Soon after Sugar's question, Mr. Schue appeared from stage left, grinning ear to ear at his students.
Santana looked at his eyes – something was off.
Even so, Mr. Schue gave his signature proud laugh, "We did it!" He exclaimed, earning another round of cheers from his students. Instantly, they were all on their feet, the trophy in the air and arms around one another.
"I am so proud of all of you!" He gushed, "You all worked so hard to get here, and now we have another shot to dominate at nationals!" There was another cheer, the New Directions just about losing it. They launched into a rendition of Tongue Tied by Grouplove, but that quickly fizzled out as Mr. Schue called for them to be quiet and the sound of thin tires squeaking against the stage floor gained their attention.
"Where've you been man? The party's starting without you!" Puck called at Artie as soon as he wheeled on stage.
Mr. Schuester cleared his throat, looking from Artie, to Santana, to the rest of the glee club while the look that had been lingering in his eyes overtook the rest of his expression. "I need everyone to sit down, back in your circle, please," he instructed somberly. The students obliged quietly and suspiciously, except for Artie who was next to Mr. Schue, staring at the floor.
Mr. Schue stepped up awkwardly, sitting down between Finn and Rory, across the circle from Santana and Brittany but avoiding eye contact with the both of them. He took a moment to look around the circle, breathing in deeply before he began.
"You all have come so far in the past few years. I've watched some of you grow for three years, and I could not be any more proud than I am right now. I can't wait to take you to nationals, and to win nationals, and see you all walk across the stage and into your futures," Schue looked down at the ground for a moment, gathering his thoughts before he continued. "That being said, I think we've seen our fair share of… drama…. the past few years, this year included. There've been relationships and betrayals and bullying, you name it. It used to seem like one of you showed up covered in slushie every other day, often doled out by another member of the New Directions."
Brittany, Santana, and Quinn all looked at each other with sheepish smiles. Oops.
"This year has been no different. I'm sure you all remember very clearly what happened on Saturday before our performance." Brittany pulled Santana into her side once again, wrapping a protective arm around the smaller girl as all eyes went to the couple. Santana maintained a steady gaze on Mr. Schuester, trying her best to ignore the others in the room.
"What happened… Was largely my fault, and for that, I am truly sorry, Santana," Will said, looking at her with so much regret in his eyes as she quirked an eyebrow. How in the hell was that your fault? "I knew that you were being bullied, and I knew about the situation with your father, and although I did go to Figgins I didn't do enough. I owe you an apology for that. If I had pushed Figgins to investigate the whole matter further, Saturday would never have happened."
Mr. Schuester looked at Santana, who nodded slowly, smiling sadly at him as an acceptance of his apology. She didn't believe that it was his fault even after his admission, but she did appreciate the show of concern. It wasn't something she ever expected to hear from Will Schuester.
"Alright, Artie, you're turn," Mr. Schuester said, looking back at the boy still lingering outside the circle. He pushed himself to rest just behind Schue, still refusing to look at anyone.
After a moment, Quinn looked at Artie and asked what everyone else is thinking, "What's going on here?"
Santana looked up and saw Sue sneaking in, staying just backstage next to the stage manager's desk.
Artie looked up, eyes focused on the center of the circle as to avoid eye contact.
"I ordered the slushie attack on Santana Saturday. I told them where to go. All of it…. Everything that happened was my fault."
The room was silent for a moment, Santana surprisingly the first to speak. She looked directly at Artie, even though he refused to look up at her at all.
"And my father?" She asked coldly.
Artie swallowed, "I sent him an invitation to regionals. I didn't know he would come back to find you, but I was the one that sent the invitation."
The room was split: Puck, Sam, Quinn and a few of the others were glaring harshly at Artie, Finn was looking down at his hands, his suspicions confirmed, and everyone else was watching Santana with calculated concern and fear.
Santana shrugged Brittany's arm off of her gently, giving her hand a loving squeeze as she stood and walked to the middle of the circle, right where Artie had been staring. His eyes flitted up to her face out of reflex, but her fierce gaze forced him to maintain eye contact.
"You invited my father." Her voice was flat and the whole club tensed, knowing they were about to see the return of vicious Santana, the resurrection of Snixx.
Artie went pale, nodding stiffly.
"You told a bunch of sophomores to throw slushies at me."
He swallowed hard.
"Right before our regionals performance against the Warblers."
His eyes were wide, fear beginning to overtake the shame that had already been instilled in him.
"More than that. You outed me. Whether you did it on purpose or not, you were the one talking to Finn in the hall, you were the one that that bitch overheard. You're the reason that that commercial aired. You're the reason that my father beat the living hell out of me, disowned me, and told me how much of a piece of shit I am. But even better," she laughed her fake, empty laugh through her cold and angry tone, "you didn't even have the balls to fess up. Finn at least had a little bit of dignity. Finn told the truth as soon as the magnitude of the situation made its way into his brain."
Brittany bit her lip as she watched her girlfriend. On one hand, I almost forgot how sexy Snixx is, but she was also a little worried; the last thing Santana needed right now was to be suspended for assault.
Artie, on the other hand, looked like he was watching the Hulk transform just in order to murder him.
"And did you stop there? No, of course not. Because, Wheels, that would have been almost human of you. Instead, you decided to order a bunch of fucking sophomores to throw slushies at my face right before the most important performance we've had in a year. You couldn't even do your own damn dirty work. But hey, we've already established that apparently you were born without a pair of testicles, so whatever, no surprises there."
Puck and a few of the others stifled laughs as Artie reddened visibly. Will looked on in awe and in horror, wondering all the while if he should stop this. Sue, Brittany, and Quinn just silently egged her on.
"And then of course, thanks to you, my amazing father turns back up just to remind me that not only am I a piece of shit, but that I don't have a fucking family! So that's great. That's just fucking great." Santana paused, sucking her lips into her mouth as she glared at him, calculating the impact of what she was about to say. After a moment, she took a breath and continued.
"I should tear you apart. I should push you and you're little wheelchair down the longest, steepest hill in this town, meet you at the bottom and punch you in the face. But I won't. Partially because I know that you'll still be an asshole, but mostly because honestly, I feel sorry for you."
Everyone stared in complete confusion, including Artie.
"All of this started because you hurt Brittany and she left you. She chose me over you, and you're so jacked up in the head that you thought that by hurting me you would get my girlfriend back, or at least somehow be even," Santana stared at him, narrow eyes. "That's not how it works, not with her, and not with me. So I'm sorry that you're so insecure that you felt like you had to destroy someone else's life to feel some sense of validity. I think you're a dick, but still."
She watched him process, his head nodding slowly as he formulated a response. Finally he spoke, voice just above a whisper.
"I… I'm sorry, Santana. What I did… you're right, it was terrible and wrong, and that's not the kind of person that I want to be. So I'm sorry. I don't expect your forgiveness, but I am."
Artie's eyes returned to the floor. Santana pursed her lips, as she returned to Brittany's side. The dancer wrapped her hands around Santana's, kissing her on the cheek, impossibly proud.
They sat in silence, shock coupled with understanding settling over the group for a moment.
It felt like an eternity before Coach Sylvester stepped out of the shadows, clearing her throat, "Artie Abrams, you need to come with me." Artie rolled to where Sue was turning to leave, but not before she caught Santana's eye and gave her a solid nod and a tight lipped smile.
Coach Sylvester led Artie out of the auditorium.
"What's going to happen to him?" Tina asked once they heard the door slam.
Will shrugged, "He's being suspended for two weeks. After that, we'll just see how he wants to handle things. And how Santana feels having him around."
Brittany looked at her girlfriend, one eyebrow quirked; Brittany wouldn't blame Santana if she wanted him kicked out. In fact, Brittany kind of wanted him kicked out, effective immediately.
But Santana offered no clues, only leaning her head onto her girlfriend's shoulder and snuggling a little closer.
"Anyways," Mr. Schuester broke the air, "I guess it's time to talk about a nationals setlist."
"And maybe we should have that decided on before the eve of the competition," Quinn joked, drawing chuckles from her friends. Mr. Schue smirked and nodded, and the New Directions began to brainstorm.