A/N: Thanks all for the love on the last chapter! Glad to see I still have a handful of readers enjoying this fic :D
Happy Holidays to everyone out in the world! Have a blessed festive season with your loved ones :)
Onwards and up!
Disclaimer: I do not own Glee :(
CHAPTER 11: The blame game
Quinn woke with a start. Blinking rapidly, she stared up at the roof.
I'm in the den, she realised, recognising the roof. She'd spent enough sleepovers in that room to know where she was.
She turned around and immediately scooted back a bit. Rachel was fast asleep next to her, her face resting on her hands and her deep breaths even.
Quinn swallowed and allowed herself a few seconds to take it in the beautiful face of the girl who still had her heart. She hated admitting that to herself, but after what Rachel had surprised her with and Santana's letter, she'd come to the realisation that being angry all the time was just a load of crap. She wasn't ready to welcome Rachel back with open arms, but she was willing to listen and talk.
She wasn't sure when exactly that talk would happen, though. With everything that had gone down the previous day, Quinn's focus was not on her whatever-ship with Rachel, but on skinning that excuse for hair on the top of Puckerman's head. And if anything else got skinned in the process…well, he deserved it.
She rummaged for her phone under her pillow and saw that it was just after six. Taking care to be quiet, she slid out from underneath he covers, making sure they didn't jostle her bed partner awake. She had to be honest – she never thought she'd ever share a bed with Rachel Berry again. Quinn bit her lip as her eyes flickered over her former lover's sleeping face and sighed inaudibly. She would have to deal with Rachel later. She had a more important task at hand.
She stood up and stretched quickly, wincing as her back clicked loudly. Well, it sounded very loud in the silent den. She looked at her best friend and smiled affectionately. She and Santana were so close together, holding onto each other as though they were terrified the other would somehow disappear. She loved that her best friend had found someone that meant everything to her. She stepped away from the other girls and her gaze rested on Rachel one last time.
She remembered what that had felt like. As fleeting as it had been, what she'd had with Rachel had been real and after Rachel had thrown it away like it had meant nothing, had hurt Quinn more than anything she had ever thought possible.
She ran a hand through her short hair and shook her head at herself. Rachel wasn't something she could think about. Not at that moment. Maybe even ever.
Puckerman was the one in her sights and she was going to give him hell for what he did to most important person in her life.
The sound of feet padding across the wooden floor roused Rachel and she blinked blearily at the retreating figure of Quinn. She frowned and sat up. It had to be ridiculously early – a lot earlier than Quinn would normally get up. She heard the front door close and her eyes widened in realisation.
She leapt up and quickly pulled her sweatpants on and chased after Quinn. She glanced back at her sister and saw that she was still fast asleep, cuddled tightly with Santana. Sparing Brittany a deserved smile of appreciation for the love she had found, Rachel turned towards the den entrance and hoped that she would reach Quinn before she did something really reckless.
She realised that she had no shoes or top and it was the beginning of November, but Rachel gritted her teeth and sucked up the chill that immediately crept into her bones.
"Fuck, Quinn. If I get sick because of you, I'm not going to be happy," she grumbled, heading across the Pierce's front lawn to the Puckerman residence. As expected, she saw Quinn disappear around the back and ran after her.
Rachel grabbed Quinn's arm just as she was about to climb through an open window to the living room.
"Don't even think about it, Fabray," she ordered in a low voice.
"Rachel, what the fuck are you doing?" Quinn hissed back, jerking her arm out of the brunette's grasp.
"I'm stopping you from doing something incredibly stupid."
"The only incredibly stupid thing that I'll be guilty of is not making that scumbag pay for what he did to Britt. I can't ignore it, Rachel."
"I'm not asking you to. I'm asking you to allow us to go through the right channels."
"What, tell his dad and dear ol' stepmommy?" Quinn scoffed her displeasure at the idea.
"Actually, I was thinking more red and blue."
Quinn blinked in surprise. "The cops?"
"He committed a crime, Quinn, and I intend for him to experience the full extent of that penalty according to the law. Not your law."
"So I'm supposed to just walk away and do nothing?"
Rachel smiled soothingly. "Of course not. You're going to be my sister's best friend and support her when she does go to the police. It wasn't easy for her to tell us, so it'll probably be even harder for her to retell the story to virtual strangers."
Quinn's eyes widened. "Shit, Rach. What if they ask about the reason behind everything? I don't know if Santana can handle reliving that again."
Rachel bit her lip. Quinn was right. She remembered the terrified look on Santana's face in Charlie's on Saturday morning and was pretty sure that Brittany would be against regaling that tale to the cops with Santana present again. The chill of the morning reminded her of how scantily she was dressed and she visibly shivered.
"Shit, why the hell aren't you wearing anything?" Quinn snapped, glaring at the shorter girl. "You're gonna get frigging pneumonia."
Rachel couldn't help but smile at Quinn's exaggeration. It was one of the things she found most endearing about her. She knew she was dramatic, and Quinn had her own flare of drama. It gave their relationship a definite flavour. Well, it had.
"I guess the realisation that you were about to do something stupid trumped my own warmth," she retorted with a smile. "Now get your ass back in the house before I freeze mine off."
Quinn arched an eyebrow, but obeyed, turning away from the Puckerman house and back towards her best friend's front door.
"Quinn?" Victoria asked in surprise. "Where were-Rachel? Sweetie, you're shaking!"
"Y-Yeah, it's k-kinda cold out there," Rachel replied, holding her arms around herself.
"Here," Victoria said, opening the closet next to the front door and handing her a blanket. Rachel wrapped it around herself gratefully. "Go and take a warm bath, please. Chris is making breakfast."
"Uh oh," Rachel said through a shivering laugh.
Victoria smirked. "Smartass. Off you go."
Rachel gratefully headed up to the second floor and to her own bedroom.
She paused at her bedroom door and looked at Quinn expectantly. The former blonde shuffled her feet.
"I, uh, just…um, thank you. For, you know, stopping me. Coming after me and…you know…" she trailed off and it made Rachel smile.
"You're welcome, Quinn. I doubt orange would be a good colour with that pink hair." She resisted the urge to reach out and play with it.
"Orange is the new black," she quipped back and Rachel chuckled.
"Well, you are fortunate enough that you can pull off pretty much any colour."
She could have sworn that she saw a little pink colour Quinn's cheeks to match her hair, but she didn't dare say anything. They were talking, which was kind of a miracle in itself.
"While Britt's still sleeping, maybe talk to Chris and Vic about going to the cops," she suggested, opening the door.
"Um, yeah. Sure thing." Quinn spun on her heel without another word and walked quickly to the steps.
Rachel followed her ex-lover's retreating figure with an amused smirk. Quinn's reaction told her one thing – they still had something.
As Brittany woke up, she was very aware of two things.
One, her knee was throbbing painfully. Even though it was elevated and resting against the back cushions of the soft couch, the pain was intense. She didn't need to be a doctor to know that level of pain probably came with a massive dose of bad news for her dancing career.
The second thing kind of made the whole sore knee thing shoot to the back of her mind. Santana, her beautiful girlfriend, was curled tightly against her, and her arm was resting across her stomach underneath her shirt. Brittany couldn't quite describe the sensations that flew through her body at the feeling of Santana's bare skin on her own. Granted, it was only her arm on her stomach, but it still made her butterflies go ape shit. But a good ape shit.
Brittany's arm was holding Santana securely to her and she just tightened her grip, pulling the younger girl closer to her. Santana took a deep breath through her nose and nuzzled deeper into the crook of Brittany's neck. She didn't wake up, though. The arm resting across Brittany's stomach also tightened and it made the blonde smile to herself as she started dozing off again. She loved how they were so close together, but how they still tried to get closer. She was sure that even months down the line, she and Santana would still be trying to achieve a closeness that was physically impossible. Neither of them cared. They just needed to be close. After everything that they'd had to deal with over the last few days, she was so thankful that their relationship had simply strengthened. She was sure that, had it been anyone else, she wouldn't be snuggled with them, appreciating how amazing she was and falling more and more in love with her every day.
With a sigh of contentment, Brittany kissed Santana's forehead and let her drowsiness consume her.
The next time she woke up, it was to soft kisses along her neck. She hummed her approval and pulled Santana closer to her. She felt her girlfriend's hand underneath her shirt trail a little higher and her fingers traced across the skin covering her ribs. It sent a shiver through her.
God, even when she was barely awake, Santana could elicit such incredible reactions from her body. Part of her hated that she'd encouraged them to wait because…damn, her girlfriend was so fucking hot!
A sharp pain from her knee reminded her of another reason why she couldn't take that next step with Santana just yet. She wanted nothing to prevent them from fully experiencing everything together.
Crap, now I'm turned on. Perfect.
She blinked her eyes open and immediately saw her love's dark orbs watching her tenderly from above. Santana gave her a small smile and mouthed, Good morning.
"Morning, love," Brittany croaked back, grimacing at the totally unsexy sound and cleared her throat.
Santana just smiled wider and leaned down, pressing their lips together softly.
"Definitely good morning," Brittany mumbled, wrapping both arms around Santana's waist and pulling her gently on top of her. Both were careful to avoid Brittany's injured knee. The blonde inhaled her girlfriend's scent deeply and she sighed happily. "I'm so spoiled, waking up next to you," she murmured.
Me too, Santana mouthed. She rubbed her nose lightly against Brittany's cheek and the sensation shot straight down to the blonde's toes. She giggled in delight.
"I'm hoping you two are decent because I'm coming in anyway," Quinn announced, breaking their little moment.
Santana just grabbed the duvet and pulled it over them. Brittany chuckled and happily accepted the kiss the brunette planted on her. They traded sweet kisses and non-verbal I love you's until the duvet was yanked off them.
"Get up, lazy ass," Quinn ordered. "Your dad made breakfast."
Brittany stuck her tongue out at her best friend and Santana just nestled back into the crook of her neck. She grinned and rested her lips against her girlfriend's forehead.
"I could so stay like this with you all day," she murmured.
"Up!" Quinn yelled as she left the den.
Santana manoeuvred off Brittany, who pouted at the loss. The Latina smiled and gave her a lingering kiss. She pulled away and crooked her finger, beckoning the blonde to get up.
"See, now that kind of request I'm happy to adhere to," Brittany said with a grin. She pushed herself into a sitting position, only wincing slightly at the discomfort the jostle brought to her knee. The worst part was coming up.
Santana carefully cradled her leg and guided it to the edge of the couch so that Brittany's feet were close to the ground. She knew that the pain was mostly because of the stiffness. She regretted not putting any ice on the injury the previous night.
Her girlfriend was quick to provide herself as a crutch and Brittany couldn't help but feel her heart swell with love, despite the pain in her knee. How did she get so lucky with the amazing girl by her side?
Santana looked up at her once they were standing with concern and love shining from her dark brown eyes. Brittany smiled down at her.
"I love you," she whispered.
The younger girl grinned. I love you.
"Okay, let's get the blood flowing," Brittany said, gritting her teeth.
Slowly, they made their way to the kitchen. Brittany tried not to lean too heavily on Santana and found that, as they neared their destination, she was able to move her leg a little easier. Unfortunately, it was only a little.
"Morning, you two," Victoria greeted with a smile. She dished some eggs and bacon onto two plates. "Breakfast is served. You hungry?"
"Starved, actually," Brittany said gratefully.
Santana signed her thanks and helped Brittany into one of the chairs at the kitchen table. She moved her one closely next to the blonde's and started eating their breakfast in a comfortable silence, feeding each other every few bites.
"Quinn, will you stop eating all the bacon?" Chris asked in exasperation.
Santana and Brittany giggled.
"Morning!" Rachel chirped, walking into the kitchen.
Brittany smiled widely. It felt like old times, with Quinn driving Chris crazy and Rachel's overzealous morning happiness. Except that it was infinitely better because she had the most amazing girl chuckling at her dad and Quinn fighting over the bacon.
"You're so perfect," she murmured, almost to herself.
But Santana heard her and met her eyes briefly, before dropping her gaze shyly.
"Don't be shy, baby," she whispered. "Even though it looks totally adorable on you."
Santana rolled her eyes, but the look on her face told Brittany that she appreciated the compliment. It made the blonde grin widely.
"Okay, could you two stop being so damn cute? It's too early for my cavities to be acting up."
"Jealousy makes you nasty, Q," Brittany quipped, her eyes never leaving Santana's.
"I don't suppose there's any chance we could enjoy a normal family breakfast?" Victoria asked with a sigh.
"No," Brittany, Quinn and Rachel chorused.
The blonde didn't miss the way Santana's eyes had widened and her bottom lip had trembled slightly at her mom's statement. She took her girlfriend's hand and laced their fingers together, squeezing gently to get her attention. Santana just nodded quickly, telling Brittany that she was fine. Brittany knew that she wasn't completely, but she would never push her, especially in front of her family.
"Britt, I've sent a message to Dr. Langdon," Victoria said, sitting down on the other side of her daughter. "I haven't heard anything back yet, but as soon as I do, I'll let you know when the appointment is."
The reminder of her injury caused the smile on Brittany's face to drop. Dr. Langdon was a knee specialist. She'd done Victoria's surgery years before and Brittany knew that she was one of the best. She'd be able to give her an accurate prognosis as well as a recovery time. God, she hoped that she would have a recovery time.
She felt Santana squeeze her hand and she just lifted their joined hands to her lips, brushing them across her girlfriend's smooth skin.
"Do you need me to take time off work?" Victoria continued, simply smiling at the interaction between her daughter and the girl that had stolen her heart.
"No, Mom. Thank you for offering, but you have that massive plan to finish for the mayor by the end of the week."
"I can drive her wherever she needs to go," Rachel offered.
"Me too," Quinn piped up, sitting on the other side of Santana.
"You have school," Brittany and Rachel said at the same time.
"So does Santana," Quinn argued petulantly.
"Actually, I'm pretty sure that Holly gave her permission to call in sick today," Brittany said nonchalantly. She focused a concerned look at her girlfriend. "Baby, you're feeling very warm." She placed a hand across Santana's forehead. "I think you might be coming down with something. Just to be safe, I think you should stay home today."
Santana tried to keep a straight face and nodded seriously, but she couldn't hold it for long and broke out into silent laughter. It brought a big grin to Brittany's face.
"Don't forget to send Holly a message, okay?" she whispered.
Santana nodded and speared some egg to feed Brittany, who accepted it gladly.
"I'll give Will Schuester a call and explain what happened," Chris said, taking his seat at the head of the table.
Brittany just nodded, wondering what Mike would have to say. Considering what he thought of Santana and her influence on Brittany, she doubted that her mentor would be very happy about the news of her injury. And not so much in an Oh my God, are you okay kind of way, but more an I told you so kind of way.
"Hmmm?" Brittany absentmindedly responded, her eyes fixated on how her skin looked next to Santana's and her mind elsewhere.
"There is something else that we need to talk about."
"Britt, you need to listen to us," Rachel coaxed gently.
The blonde snapped back to attention and nodded. "Sorry. My head's kind of all over the place."
"Understandable," her sister replied. "We'd just like you to hear what we came up with as a plan of action."
"For what?" Brittany asked.
"Um, for Puck," Rachel said.
"We were thinking that this has escalated beyond the control of the school and it's now time to get the police involved."
Santana's grip on Brittany's hand immediately tightened to the point of her blood circulation being cut off. Brittany kissed her girlfriend's hand reassuringly.
"Um, while I think that this definitely needs to be escalated, what exactly could the police do? I mean, what would we tell them?"
"Uh, that he tried to kill you, Britt!" Quinn said in exasperation.
"I doubt that they'd get anything on him for that," Brittany said calmly. "That's why I asked. I think assault would be a good start."
"Agreed," Chris said. "That's something we can definitely prove. I've checked the camera footage from the pool room."
"There are cameras in there?" Brittany asked in horror.
"Yes," her father replied with a frown. "Why do you…you know what? Never mind. I don't want to know."
Brittany winced internally. She and Quinn had often hooked up in the pool and to think that there was video evidence of that made her nauseous. What if Santana found that? Even though she knew that her girlfriend understood that she and Quinn were long over, she suspected that Santana would always harbour a little nervousness about Brittany's relationship with Quinn.
Brittany cleared her throat. "Okay, so do you want to go there now?"
"I would, yes," Victoria replied. "The sooner we get this in motion, the sooner he can pay for what he did to you."
"Fine. I guess I'll get ready." Brittany shakily stood up, but Santana was immediately there to help her. She didn't know why, but she felt incredibly tired all of a sudden. Maybe it was the concussion, but Brittany suspected it had more to do with the whole emotional side of everything that had happened. Quinn's words rang in her head.
He tried to kill you.
Had he? Had that really been his intention? It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Puck had anger issues, but attempted murder? That was extreme, even for him. Then again, circumstances were extreme. He'd just been expelled and his father was sending him off to military school or whatever. People had killed for less.
She shook with the realisation that he could have been there with the intention of killing her.
"Oh, God," she whispered.
"Britt?" Rachel asked in alarm.
Brittany could hardly hear anyone's voices as her mind started swirling with scenarios. Her own demise swam before her eyes – what if that hit to the head meant that she'd drowned? What if he'd planned it like that? What if he'd succeeded and she'd died? What about Santana? She'd never get to see Santana again.
The last thing she saw before she blacked out was Santana's scared face and her mouthing her name.
The voices were distant and muffled. Brittany desperately wanted to wake up, but she felt like her eyes were glued shut. Why couldn't she wake up?
"I think we should wait for Dr. Langdon's prognosis before we decide anything." That was Victoria.
"How much longer will that be? The cops need her statement before they can do anything," Quinn said in her usual exasperated tone. "If Puck somehow manages to slip away from this, I'm going to be so pissed."
"Language, Quinn," Victoria said tiredly. "They said that they have officers at his house, making sure that he doesn't go anywhere. He's not going to get away with this."
"I'll make sure that he doesn't, Victoria. You have my word on that." Wait, what the heck was Shelby doing there?
She needed to wake up. She was laying on an unfamiliar surface, so she was pretty sure she wasn't at home. Was she in the hospital? Oh, God. Why was she in the hospital?
"Oh, Dr. Greene," Victoria said gratefully. "What's the word?"
"Uh, is everyone staying for this?" a new voice asked.
"You try getting rid of us." Even in her sleeping or unconscious or whatever state, Brittany rolled her eyes at her best friend's fierceness.
"Right." The doctor cleared his throat. "It's clear that she'd got quite a severe concussion. The fact that she was unconscious in the water for fifteen minutes meant that the lack of oxygen to her brain contributed to the severity of this."
Brittany didn't like the sound of what he was saying at all. She could feel tears coming to her closed eyes.
"What does that mean for her dancing?" Victoria asked in worry. "She's at a performing arts school."
"Just based on this kind of head injury, I'd recommend no activity for four to five weeks, and depending on how she feels after that, light movement. She can probably go back to training after about eight weeks."
Eight weeks? Eight weeks?
She'd miss the winter showcase. It counted for half her grade. If she wasn't able to perform, she wouldn't be able to graduate that year. She could feel the tears streaming down her cheeks and familiar warm hands were wiping them away frantically, but gently.
"Britt?" Rachel's voice asked softly. "Britt, are you awake?"
Dammit! Wake up, Pierce! Wake up!
Brittany focused all her energy into forcing her eyes open, but they refused to open.
"Her mind appears to be active, but her body is still recuperating, which is most likely why she is displaying emotion like that."
"So she's awake?" Victoria asked.
"Britt, if you can hear us, squeeze Santana's hand," Rachel said.
Brittany immediately squeezed her left hand, knowing that was the one her girlfriend was holding.
"She's definitely awake," Rachel reported.
"Why can't she open her eyes?" Quinn asked in frustration. "She's crying for fuck's sake."
"Sorry," she mumbled.
"The tape on her eyelids is still there from when the plastic surgeon was stitching her cut up," the doctor reported. "Sorry about that, guys. Just give me a second."
Brittany felt something being pulled across her eyes and she blinked them open quickly. She saw an unfamiliar face smiling at her, so she frowned and quickly glanced to her left to find the eyes she would much rather have woken up to. Except, they were wide and dark with worry and fear.
"Baby," she whispered, lifting her hand to Santana's face.
Santana just started crying and threw her arms around Brittany's neck. The blonde readily reciprocated the embrace.
"Britt, uh, this is Dr. Greene," Victoria said, sending her daughter a relieved smile.
"Hi," Brittany mumbled, coughing a little to clear her throat.
"So, it looks like-"
"I heard you," Brittany cut in bluntly. "I'd rather not have it repeated, if that's okay."
Dr. Greene sent her a sympathetic look, which just spiked Brittany's anger. Santana must have sensed it because she grabbed Brittany's face with both hands and forced her to look into her eyes.
Later, she mouthed.
It was difficult, but the blonde eventually nodded.
"I have the number of a really good physio if you need it," Dr. Greene offered, but Santana vehemently shook her head.
She signed Holly's name and Brittany raised her eyebrows. "Really?"
Her girlfriend nodded.
"Well, I guess if I have to have anyone getting me back into shape, I'm glad it's her."
"Uh, what did we miss?" Rachel asked in confusion.
"My partner is a qualified physiotherapist," Shelby said from where she was leaning against the door.
"Holly?" Quinn clarified.
Shelby nodded and Brittany met Santana's eyes, asking silently what her aunt was doing there. Before Santana could respond, Shelby had cleared her throat and stepped forward.
"Brittany, if you would allow me to, I'd like to make sure that this bastard gets everything that I can legally throw at him for what he did to you and Santana."
"You want to be my lawyer?" Brittany asked in surprise.
"If you would permit it," Shelby replied with a nod.
"Uh, yeah, I guess. I mean, yes. Thank you. I would really appreciate that."
"Great." She paused and Brittany noticed that she fiddled with her hands the same way that Santana did when she was nervous. "I would like to extend my sincerest apologies that this happened to you."
"It wasn't your fault, Shelby," Brittany said quietly. "But I appreciate the gesture."
"I know that I haven't exactly been your greatest fan, but I hope that we can put that behind us?"
Brittany's eyebrows shot up and she glanced at Santana, who had a similar look of surprise on her face, but it quickly faded into a smile.
"I'd really like that," the blonde said with a smile. She held out her hand.
Shelby smiled back and shook the outstretched hand firmly. "Excellent. Brittany, the police are here for your statement. The sooner we can-"
"Send them in," Brittany cut in. "I heard you guys earlier. The sooner we get him behind bars or charged or whatever, the better."
"Okay, sure. Are you happy for everyone to be here for that?"
Brittany glanced at her mom, sister and best friend, who all wore matching expressions stating clearly that they weren't going anywhere. She then turned to her left and met Santana's eyes.
"Block your ears, okay?" she murmured.
Santana nodded and leaned forward, resting her head on the pillow next to Brittany's. The blonde sighed, revelling in the closeness.
"Okay, I'm ready," she said.
Shelby nodded, her eyes flitting over Santana hiding next to Brittany before heading to the door.
"Sweetie, you don't have to do this now," Victoria said quietly, her voice laced with worry. "You've had a really crazy morning so far and I just don't want-"
"Mom, I know you're worried and I love you for it, but I want to get this over with. I've got other shit to look forward to after this so I want it done."
Victoria pursed her lips at the dejected tone of her daughter's voice and nodded. "Okay." She stood on Brittany's right side and took her hand. Brittany squeezed it gratefully.
"Good morning, Miss Pierce," a greying man said as he came into view. "I'm Detective Bruce and this is my partner, Detective Harris." The younger detective nodded a greeting. "I do apologise for the inconvenience of this meeting, but I understand your need to get this done quickly, so how about we get started?"
"Sounds good," Brittany replied. She felt Santana start shaking next to her. "Um, one second." She turned to whisper in Santana's ear, "If you want to wait outside with Shelby, that's totally fine, baby. I don't want you to be uncomfortable and you know I'm not going anywhere. I'll just be counting down the seconds till this is done. Do you want to wait outside?"
Santana pulled away and nodded slightly.
"Okay. Off you go. I'll be as quick as I can."
The Latina nodded again and bit her lip. Brittany forced a smile and kissed her hand three times. Reluctantly, they let go of each other and Brittany's eyes followed her girlfriend until she was out the door. She cleared her throat and addressed the two cops, "Okay, so what do you need from me?"
"Seriously, guys, just give me some fucking space," Brittany mumbled, trying to move her crutches so that she could get out of the car.
Rachel, Quinn and Santana looked a little taken aback, but obliged and moved away from the car door. Brittany internally winced at how bitchy she'd sounded when all they were doing was trying to help. She hated how angry she was, though. She knew it needed to come out somehow, and her worst fear of lashing out at her friends was becoming true.
"I'm sorry," she apologised. "I just…"
"We get it, Britt," Rachel said quietly. "Take your time. We're here if you need us."
Brittany eventually got out of the car and gained her balance on her crutches. Her leg had been tightly bound to prevent any further swelling and bruising. Dr. Langdon had been the only one to deliver some good news. Well, in comparison to everything else, it was good news. There was no permanent damage to her knee, other than some severe bruising on the kneecap. She would need to do some physio as Dr. Greene had predicted, and Brittany was thankful that it would be with Holly. If anyone could make light of a crappy situation, it would be her.
She looked at her girlfriend, whose eyes were fixed on the ground. Brittany wanted to kick herself and probably would have if her one leg wasn't so incapacitated.
"San," she said quietly.
Brown eyes lifted to hers and Brittany inclined her head with an apologetic smile. Slowly, Santana stepped next to her. Brittany handed her left crutch to Rachel and wrapped an arm around Santana's shoulders, even though she didn't need to. She could feel that Santana needed to be needed. She understood that to an extent, but Brittany wasn't about to play the role of an invalid, because she wasn't. Dr. Langdon had instructed her to stay off her feet as much as possibly until the weekend and she planned on doing that, but she wouldn't be a baby about it.
Knowing Santana like she did, though, her girlfriend would do anything she asked without complaint. She knew that because she'd be the exact same way if the roles were reversed.
Quinn and Rachel had walked ahead, opening the door and clearing the path of anything. Not that there was anything to clear. Brittany bit her lip, repeating to herself that she had to be grateful for their support and love. If she shunned them, she would only come across as a bitch and that wouldn't bode well for any of her relationships, regardless of the circumstances.
Santana stepped closer and turned her head to Brittany's ear. The blonde's breath hitched once more as she felt the three most important words spill almost inaudibly from her girlfriend's lips. Only she could hear them, and she hoped that she would be the only one to hear them in that context from Santana's mouth.
"I'm sorry for snapping at you, San," she whispered. "I don't want to hurt you."
Santana just nodded and indicated that they would talk more upstairs. Brittany wasn't looking forward to it because she knew she'd have to be pretty frank about her situation. And it wasn't a pretty one. Her senior year had just gone to shit and she wasn't able to dance for over a month.
Seriously, what else could go wrong?
Almost as though the universe was mocking her, the early afternoon sun shone brightly into Brittany's room when she eventually arrived there. She scowled at the sunlight and grumbled to herself. Santana paused and looked at her in confusion.
"Never mind," the blonde muttered half-heartedly.
Bath? Santana signed.
Brittany shook her head. She always felt like cuddling with Santana, but at that moment, she just felt so angry and she didn't want to lash out at the only person to whom she never ever wanted to lash out.
Santana guided Brittany to her bed and she just fell onto it, not caring that her crutches clattered to the floor. As she lay back on her bed and stared hard at ceiling, the finality of everything that had happened over the last twenty-four hours hit her and she couldn't stop the tears escaping from her eyes. She kept her jaw set, determined not to let Santana see. Luckily, her girlfriend was busying herself with something.
Brittany closed her eyes and took a silent breath. She needed to get her emotions under control. She had been strong when Santana had needed her, but she wouldn't expect Santana to be strong for her now, not when she knew that Santana was having trouble keeping it together herself. Everything that had happened was because of her. Puck had targeted Santana because he'd seen her stick up for the younger girl. He'd tortured her and then assaulted Brittany when she'd brought him to book for his heinous crimes.
Puck would never have touched Santana had she not snubbed him. He must have targeted her for a reason and that reason was Brittany. There was just no two ways about it – everything that had happened was her own fault. Sure, she hadn't fucked up her own knee and given herself a concussion; she hadn't tied Santana up and left her in a toilet, but her actions had led to his actions. They were reactions.
What if Santana put the pieces together? What if she realised that everything was her fault? Would she break up with her? God, she would die if that happened.
Brittany was jerked back to the present by her girlfriend shaking her arm lightly. She was sitting on the bed next to Brittany, looking down at her in concern.
God, she can't look at me like that. I don't deserve that kind of look from her.
"I'm sorry," she blurted.
Santana frowned in confusion. Why? she signed.
"B-Because this is all my fault. Everything that happened, what happened to you…it's my fault. Santana, I'm so sorry."
Her girlfriend just shook her head, her brown still deeply furrowed in confusion. How? she asked.
Brittany took a deep breath and broke their gaze. She couldn't see Santana's reaction to her carelessness.
"Puck and I…we used to…hook up. He's always been an asshole and I guess I was into the whole bad boy thing for a while." She swallowed, the guilt swelling up in her chest and threatening to overwhelm her. "One day, I just told him to fuck off. I didn't care about his feelings or anything and I knew that he was pissed at me. I never thought he would ever do something like what he did to you, but I guess when he saw me defend you, he knew that it was a sure-fire way to hurt me. And he succeeded. Only, he hurt you too, and I'm responsible for that."
She closed her eyes, the tears making anything too blurry to see. The bed dipped and Brittany felt Santana's weight lift from the bed. It stung. She'd expected Santana to walk away, but it didn't make the reality any easier to accept. She was responsible for her own mess. She turned towards her window and cried quietly. How had she lost so much all in one day?
When she felt movement behind her, she stilled in disbelief, trying hard not to hope that Santana hadn't gone, that she hadn't left her. Even though she deserved it.
She let out a whimper of relief when dark strands of hair fell over her face and the softest lips pressed against her cheek.
One, two, three.
I love you.
How could she, though? If it hadn't been for Brittany, she never would have been tied to a toilet and terrified so much.
Santana coaxed Brittany to move up the bed, where she was rested against a few pillows. Brittany sniffed and wiped her eyes as she sat up, finally meeting the love of her life's gaze. Her heart leaped at the smile on her face and the unconditional love shining from her own glassy eyes. She could tell that Santana was trying not to cry.
"You shouldn't love me," Brittany whispered, looking down at the bed spread. "Not when being with me has brought you so much hurt and pain."
Santana snapped her fingers and pointed to the space between her legs. Brittany would have smiled at her girlfriend being so demanding if she didn't feel so guilty. Santana couldn't just forgive her, right?
Two more snaps broke her out of her inner argument and she reluctantly shifted her body, careful not to put pressure on her knee. Once she was in front of Santana, the younger girl put her hands on her shoulders and guided her to turn and rest against her. It took Brittany a few moments of deliberation, but one look at Santana's dark brown eyes melted her resolve and she leaned into the comforting embrace of the girl who had her heart. The only girl who would ever have her heart.
Santana's arms wrapped tightly around Brittany's waist pulled them close together. She leaned her head against Brittany's and swayed them slightly. The blonde just let her, allowing the calm sense of Santana just wash over her. She didn't know what it was about the younger girl, and it wasn't something she'd experienced with her before, but Santana was as calm as a lake. It was infectious.
After a few minutes, Santana traced a word into Brittany's forearm. She looked down and read the letters carefully.
She sighed and nodded.
Santana traced another word. Sad?
Brittany nodded again.
The blonde paused before answering. She knew that she would cry again at some point. She'd never been one to advertise weakness in the presence of others, even Quinn and her parents. It just wasn't who she was. She internalised it and dealt with it when she was by herself. It wasn't that she really masked it or played it down. The people closest to her knew when she was upset and they left her alone to deal with it. They knew how her mind worked.
"You shouldn't have to see me cry. I hate seeing you cry, and I don't want to."
Santana squeezed her tighter and slowly traced two very important words.
Brittany bit her lip, emotion swelling in her chest to the point where it felt like she was going to explode. It actually physically hurt to keep it in. She did trust Santana. She did, truly. And she knew in the back of her mind that part of being in a relationship was being able to lean on her partner for support when she needed to be angry or sad. She'd been that strength for Santana and her girlfriend was offering her that same strength.
"I don't deserve you," she whispered, almost to herself, tears filling her eyes.
She felt one of Santana's hands disappear, but it was back a moment later, holding her phone. Brittany blinked back the tears that had accumulated in her eyes and saw her girlfriend type out a quick message.
Let me be the strong one now. I know that you're angry and sad. Please let me hold you while you cry this time. I want to be that person for you, but I can't if you won't let me.
Just Santana's heartfelt words brought more tears to Brittany's eyes and before she could say or do anything, the phone was gone and she was being held tightly against her girlfriend's chest. The steady heartbeat of a heart against her cheek unlocked the flood gates and she twisted her body as much as she could, grabbing a fistful of Santana's shirt and burying her face against her chest. She wasn't sure how long she cried for, but one thing stirred in her conscience the whole time – Santana's secure embrace never wavered, not for one second.
Quinn glanced up at the roof and sighed, dropping her gaze back to the tumbler in front of her. The stared as the ice cubes in her vodka created drops of condensation against the glass.
"She's fine," Rachel said quietly from next to her, taking a sip of her own tumbler.
"She's not fine, Rachel," Quinn snapped. "You're delusional if you think that."
The brunette sighed. "I meant that she has Santana. She doesn't need us right now. I know that she's not okay, Quinn. I may have had my head up my ass the last few months, but I'm well aware of the severity of this situation."
Quinn didn't respond; she wasn't sure what to say.
Rachel's phone rang and she frowned at the unfamiliar number before answering it.
"Rachel? This is Shelby Corcoran."
"I hope it's okay that Victoria gave me your number. I wasn't sure if Santana would be able to talk to me. I'm sure she's busy with Brittany."
"She is," Rachel confirmed. "Do you have some news?"
"Yes." Shelby cleared her throat. "I'm at the Lima PD right now. Detectives Bruce and Harris just brought Noah Puckerman in. He's currently being questioned. I'm watching from the adjoining room, but I'm confident that we'll get the charge we want."
"Thank you, Shelby. I appreciate, as will Brittany and Santana, I'm sure. Um, is he denying it?"
Background noises became muffled, but raised voices still filtered through the receiver. Rachel couldn't hear what they were saying, though.
"He's claiming that it was an accident and there was no malicious intent on his part, but the detectives haven't brought out the video yet. I'm certain that will determine his guilt without a doubt. His father is with him and he looks about ready to give Noah up himself."
"That's excellent news. Thank you so much, Shelby. Could you let us know once the charge has been confirmed?"
"Absolutely. How…How's Brittany doing?"
Rachel sighed dejectedly. "Not great. Her entire senior year has been ruined. This injury means that she'll have to repeat her senior year."
"My God. I had no idea it was that serious."
"Well, if you're a dancer at a performing arts school and you can't dance, there aren't many options left, I'm afraid."
"I understand. Will you ask Santana to let me know what her plans are for the week, please? I'm going to assume that she'll want to stay there, but at the same time, I don't want her education to suffer."
"I agree," Rachel replied. "I'll pass on the message. Enjoy the rest of your day, Shelby."
""Same to you, Rachel. Goodbye."
Rachel responded in kind and hung up the phone.
"Tell me they have the bastard," Quinn demanded.
"They have him in custody. They're questioning him now. Shelby is certain they'll be able to make the charge stick with the video evidence." She let out a breath. "He's not going to get away with this."
"Okay. Okay. That's good." Quinn downed the rest of her drink and winced at the burn of the alcohol. She dropped her head onto her arms. "She's going to blame herself."
Rachel frowned. "Sorry, missed that."
Quinn lifted her head. "She's going to blame herself."
"Why on earth would she blame herself?"
"Because she and Puckerman used to hook up. She dumped his ass and he obviously got bitter or some shit."
"Quinn, that's a bit of a stretch, don't you think? It's not like Puck is an angel. He's always been an asshole, for as long as I can remember."
"I know that. I also know Britt, though. I know how her mind works. She's going to find a way to put the blame on herself and I can only hope that Santana can make her realise that it's not her fault."
"I guess if anyone can, it would be Santana," Rachel murmured.
"Just because Britt has a girlfriend now, doesn't mean that I'm out of the picture, okay?" Quinn snapped.
Rachel blanched. "I never said that, Quinn. I've never downplayed the importance of your friendship with Brittany. I know what you two mean to each other. Yes, Santana is here now, but she won't ever replace you. Brittany will always have a best friend, and that person is you."
"Whatever," Quinn mumbled, standing up and walking to the bar fridge, pouring herself another drink.
Rachel bit her lip. "Do you think we could talk?"
"Doesn't this whole exchanging of words count as that?"
"I mean about us."
Quinn paused in her pouring, then resumed, making sure to fill the tumbler.
"You can't talk to me without the help of alcohol?" Rachel asked, hurt creeping across her face.
"'Course I can. Just makes it easier," Quinn replied, holding her glass up in a salute and swigging a quarter of the glass.
"Jesus Christ," Rachel muttered. "Quinn, look. When we came back here yesterday after school, we were going to talk. Then everything happened with Brittany and shit got crazy. You were willing to talk to me then, so why do you need alcohol to do the same thing now?"
Quinn didn't respond, just stared at her glass.
"Do you want to tell me what you thought about the song?" Rachel hedged, trying to get the conversation going.
"You sang it well," Quinn said shortly, not meeting her eyes.
"Thank you. What did you think of the, um, lyrics?"
"You know, the acoustics weren't that great so I didn't really-"
"Quinn!" Rachel said in exasperation. "I know that I messed up, okay? I know that. I have a lot to make up for, but I'm trying. But you're not giving me anything to work with."
At that, Quinn looked up, her hazel eyes flashing. "I did give you something to work with, Rachel. I gave you everything. And you threw it in my face. So excuse me for being slightly apprehensive about giving you another chance to fuck me over."
"I'm n-not going to do that, Quinn," Rachel said in a small voice.
"Really? Can you look me in the eye and swear to me that you won't fuck me over again? That you won't lead me on and then leave me to the dogs when something better comes along?"
Rachel lifted her head and stared into Quinn's eyes. "I'm not going to hurt you, Quinn. I made a mistake, a colossal mistake and I want to do what I can to make it up to you."
They had a staring match and Rachel did what she could to keep her gaze steady, convincing Quinn that she wasn't joking.
"You really meant what you sang?" Quinn eventually asked.
Rachel nodded. "Every word."
"When are you going to New York?"
The brunette swallowed. That had been a curve ball she hadn't been expecting.
"I had planned to go after New Year-"
"See? You almost had me," Quinn cut in, shaking her head. She walked to the couch and flopped against the cushions. "You actually had me so close to believing you. Again. Well, you know what they say. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice-"
"Quinn, will you shut the fuck up?!" Rachel yelled in exasperation.
The blonde just looked at her with mild interest. "Why? So that you can feed me more lines about why I should give you another chance?"
"Well, if you would actually let me speak instead of jumping in and assuming the worst like you always do, maybe you'd realise that I am being honest with you."
"Honest? Oh, pray tell. I'm salivating with anticipation."
Rachel bit back the snappy retort. No one got a rise out of her like Quinn Fabray. And goddammit if she didn't love it. She walked over to the couch and kneeled next to it. "I was planning on going to New York after New Year's, but when I made the decision to walk into your music room and sing to you, I also made the decision to wait until you knew where you were going after graduation before making any further plans."
Quinn's eyes went wide.
"Quinn Lucy Fabray, if I wasn't clear earlier, I am crazy about you and whatever my future entails, I want you to be a part of it."
Rachel held her breath, her eyes flicking all over Quinn's face, desperate for any kind of reaction. The one she did get was the least of her expectations. In two seconds flat, she found herself being pulled on top of Quinn and she was kissing her furiously. It didn't take very long at all for Rachel to respond and things simply escalated from there.
Brittany felt drained, but the relieved kind of drained. She was just resting against Santana's chest, the calm, steady thump of her girlfriend's heartbeat soothing her emotions. Santana was running her fingers through Brittany's hair, simply adding to the calmness she was exuding. Her other hand was holding her tightly against her.
She'd never felt safer and more cared for in her life before. She knew that her parents loved her unconditionally, of course, but that was a different kind of love. Her and Santana's love was the strongest kind of love. With every day that they were together, shit that was thrown at them just seemed to strengthen their bond.
She took a deep breath in and let it out with a sigh of contentment when Santana kissed her forehead.
"You're an angel," she whispered. "I don't think there's any other way to explain how amazing you are."
She felt Santana chuckle a little and the lips against her head moved from side to side as she shook her head. Gently, Santana encouraged Brittany to turn back around and lean against her. The blonde did so gladly. She was handed a phone again and read the new text on the screen.
I wrote this letter this morning when we were waiting for you to wake up at the hospital. I had a feeling that you would need to hear (or read) these things from me.
Brittany nodded. "Thank you, Santana," she said, choking back another sob. How was she so perfect?
Santana handed her a folded up piece of paper. Brittany took it and slowly unfolded it. The younger girl returned her arms around her love's waist and secured them together.
It's really scary watching you in a hospital bed, not knowing why you're in there. I mean, I guess you fainted from the exertion or the concussion, but I hate that you're not awake to tell me these things.
I know it's probably a bad thing that I'm so dependent on you. I know that Shelby has mentioned it more than a few times, but I know in my heart of hearts (where you live), that it's fine for us. We wouldn't spend so much time together if we didn't want to or need to. A lot of people probably think that we're moving so fast and that we're too young to know what we're feeling, but that's not true. I know it's not true. I know that I love you with everything that I am and that you love me just as much.
Whatever the doctors tell you today, I want you to know that I will still love you. I don't want the news to be bad because you've worked so hard for your dream and I would hate to see you not achieve it when you planned to because of another person's actions.
Brittany, my love, I know you, and I know that you're going to blame yourself. You already blame yourself for what happened to me, even though I disagree with that. It was NOT your fault. It was his. Not yours. I don't for a millisecond blame you. I never did. You are not responsible for someone's reaction to what may or may not have happened in your past. I'm well aware of your colourful history, but I know that it does not define you or us. You're not that person anymore. You're just my person.
I want you to know that I am going to be here every step of the way, regardless of the outcome. I am your partner in love and life. That means that I get to be the one that you lean on when things get tough. Even if they don't get tough, I want to be that person for you. I want to be everything for you, the way you are so effortlessly everything for me.
So much has happened in the short time that we have been together and some may consider it a breaking point, but I have never considered that as an option. Everything that we go through and GET through serves as a testament to the strength and power of what we feel for each other. Now that I have you, I never want to let you go. Any life without you is not a life, and I know you agree. What we have is intense and beautiful and amazing and magical. It's all ours and no one will take that away. Not idiotic teenage boys, not overbearing aunts, not distance, not time, not life changing events. I am yours and you are mine.
It really is that simple, my love. So dry your tears and let me love you, like I was born to do.
All my love, always,
There was no way that she was going to dry her tears after reading the beautiful words swimming in front of her.
"I love you," she choked out. "I love you so much, Santana."
The brunette just held her tightly as the tears quickly subsided. Brittany didn't want to be sad when she was so overwhelmed with love for her girlfriend. Definitely an angel.
"I can't promise that it's going to be easy from here on," she said quietly. "I've never had an injury that's prevented me from dancing, let alone one that's going to change the future that I had planned out for myself." She sighed heavily. "I can't tell you what it means to me knowing that you're going to be there with me through everything." She turned her face and nuzzled her nose against Santana's collar bone. The Latina pressed two soft kisses over Brittany's eyes.
"You give me strength, you know that? You make me want to be the best kind of person, both for myself and for you."
Santana smiled against her temple. Brittany slowly pushed herself up. "Take a shower with me?"
The brunette nodded and they slowly made their way to her bathroom, foregoing the crutches over the short distance. It wasn't an easy feat, but they managed to get undressed and climb into the shower. Santana was so careful with how she treated Brittany, that the blonde found herself just staring at her in wonder – and it had nothing to do with the fact that her gorgeous, sexy girlfriend was naked in the shower with her.
Luckily, Brittany's strapping was waterproof so they didn't have to worry about changing it until the following day. Dr. Langdon had suggested some exercises in the pool to help with her rehabilitation, but the idea of going back into that pool was completely unappealing.
Santana helped her get dressed in a tank top and sweatpants, their standard home attire. Brittany sat on the bed while her girlfriend got dressed. She couldn't help but let her eyes flicker over the smooth caramel skin so close to her.
Of course, there was just no way they could do anything. Besides the fact that she had a concussion, Brittany's knee made it virtually impossible for her to move the way she would want to when she and Santana eventually reached that point.
Well, anticipation is supposed to make the actual event that much more intense, right? Brittany thought.
Regardless, the wait was probably going to kill her.
She grabbed Santana's hand as soon as she'd pulled a top on and drew her between her legs, resting her arms around her hips. Her girlfriend gave her a loving smile and cupped her cheeks. They stared into each other's eyes before Santana slowly dipped her head to join their lips in soft, passionate kisses. She teased Brittany with her tongue, causing the blonde to moan in frustration. Her fingers dug into Santana's hips, which made the brunette simply step closer to her.
"Wait," Brittany breathed as she felt things slowly get out of their control.
Santana looked at her expectantly, her lips slightly swollen and her chest heaving a little.
"God, you're so beautiful," Brittany couldn't stop herself from whispering in awe.
The younger girl grinned shyly and ducked her head.
"Listen to me, okay? This is gonna sound really inappropriate, depending on how you take it."
Santana frowned in apprehension.
Brittany took a breath. "I'm booking you for Christmas Eve. If your family does a Christmas Eve night thing, that's totally fine, but I'd like to have some time with you afterwards. Just you and me time."
Santana nodded and signed why.
Brittany grinned. "Because by that stage, I will be one hundred percent healthy and I'll be able to make love to you the way you deserve to be made love to."
The look on her girlfriend's face made her smile widen. Santana's own smile dropped slightly, and she bit her lip. Her eyes shone and she nodded quickly. Without waiting for a verbal response from the blonde, she crashed their lips together.
"It's a date," Brittany whispered between fevered kisses.
She ended up on her back with Santana on top of her, both their feet hanging off the bed. As intoxicating as the girl in her arms was, Brittany was more determined to make Christmas Eve the perfect night for both of them. As her fingers drifted underneath the hem of the tank top Santana was wearing and started softly caressing her back, she just knew that no matter where they were or when it happened, it would be perfect.
Because they were perfect.
Brittany opened one eye lazily, glancing around her room. The sun was still streaming in. She groaned quietly. It looked like their impromptu nap after a delicious make out session had been just that. She'd been hoping to sleep a little more of the day away.
She glanced down and saw Santana cuddled on top of her. Whether it was because they were so well tuned to each other or whether her girlfriend was simply the most caring person in the entire world, they were positioned so that Brittany's knee was extended and out of the way.
And yet, they were still as close as they could be. It made Brittany smile. Her eyes drifted back to the open window and she had an idea.
"Baby?" she whispered, letting her hand that was resting on Santana's back once again sneak underneath the fabric and caress her skin. "Sweetie, wake up."
It didn't take long for the younger girl to open her eyes, yawn widely and blink lazily. She looked up Brittany grumpily, making the blonde laugh.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you grumpy, love. I just thought we could go for a walk outside."
Santana raised an eyebrow and pushed herself up, automatically staying away from Brittany's injured knee.
"It'll be fine. I just want to show you something in the back yard. We won't be long. Plus, it'll be good for me to move my knee around, right?"
The brunette looked sceptical, leaning forward to run her finger along Brittany's bandaged cut.
"I don't have a headache and I promise that if I feel dizzy or nauseous, we can come back inside. Deal?"
Santana searched her eyes for a moment before nodding her consent. She moved completely off Brittany and they headed towards the door, this time with Brittany's crutches. Navigating steps was definitely a trial for the dancer. She hated that it took so long, but Santana was so incredibly patient and rewarded her with bright smiles every time she made it down a few steps. It made the frustration fade away a little bit.
As they headed down the landing of the second floor to the main staircase, Brittany decided that having Santana by her side would not only keep her sane, but build her own character. She'd never had an injury that required assistance. While she knew that a bruised knee wasn't a severe injury in the grand scheme of things, in her context it was.
"Thank you, Santana," she murmured as they reached the top of the stairs.
Her girlfriend just sent her a wink and kissed her cheek. It took them about five minutes to get down the stairs, but Santana made it seem like nothing.
Angel from on high…
"We can go through the den," Brittany said, getting a comfortable grip on her crutches. "That'll take us exactly wh…" Her voice trailed off as an awkwardly familiar sound reached her ears.
Santana froze as she also heard it. Eyes wide, she turned to Brittany with a smirk. The blonde just grimaced.
"They could have at least gone to her bedroom," she grumbled. "Come on, we'll go through the front door."
A/N: Thanks for the patience. It is truly appreciated.
Fic recommendations – anything by Swinging Cloud. Seriously, if you haven't read her or don't have her on alert, do so now. You can thank me later ;)
Twitter, Tumblr and Ask – hlnwst