"Hey, bro," the dark-haired girl says easily. Santana's cell is caught between her ear and her shoulder as she pokes her password onto the tablet screen. "To what do I owe the pleasure of your call in the middle of the day? And before you say anything, yes, I ate something," she says as she eyes an empty can of Red Bull that sits on top of a Doritos bag in her trash basket. "No, I'm not still in my pajamas," she adds as she looks down at her Super Hero Squad boxers, "mostly; and no, I'm not changing my mind about my Halloween costume. Get over it. I'm gonna look super-hot."
"Good, um," her brother replies distractedly before taking a deep breath and clearing his throat, "look, I really need to talk to you. Are you busy?"
"I'm about a bazillion commissions behind and at least half are due within a week. Those fuckers are multiplying like tribbles. I know I shouldn't complain; it's work, at least. Anyway, I was planning to get caught up …"
"… I really need to talk to you but I want to do it in person. Can you meet me?" Santana frowns at the way her brother's voice shakes.
"Ric," she says slowly, a nervous tension starting to twist in her stomach, "what's going on?"
"Look it's gotta be in person because," he reiterates and then clears his throat again. "I can't do this on the phone, okay? Can you meet me?"
It's common knowledge that Santana Lopez got all of the dramatic, over-the-top genes, leaving none for her brother, Ricardo "Ricky" Lopez. Hey, first one out gets first dibs. It's not like it's her fault that she's three and half minutes older. You snooze, you lose, right?
Ricky doesn't do drama. He tells it like it is – that's how their family works –he doesn't pause for dramatic effect or use colorful language. He's the simpler of the two, no doubt.
It's understandable, then, that Santana immediately defaults into worry mode.
She straightens her back and refuses to sound too concerned until she's agreed on a meeting time and place. Once the phone call is over, she's pacing and tugging her long hair over her shoulder, twirling the ends tightly around her fingers over and over again.
It's not the way Ric's sitting hunched over on the park bench with his forearms resting on his knees and his head cradled in his hands or even how red his eyes are when he looks up at his sister that stops Santana's heart for a beat. It's the way his voice cracks and his face crumples in despair as he says, "It's Sal."