A/N: I know it's been ages and, really, if you're reading this - thank you for sticking around. Real life sometimes makes it hard to do things that make you happy (like write). I think I'm past the worst of it. I'm working toward putting my energy into the positives (again, writing) instead of the negative as I kind of gotten stuck into the rut of doing. There will be more updates and I hope not to have six months pass in between, again.
Also? This isn't the end. As I mentioned on Tumblr, it's been suggested that I continue.
Santana wiggles in anticipation as she opens the pink cardboard pastry box sitting on her coffee table. Taking stock of the box's contents, the excitement drains from her face and her lips pull down into a deep pout. "What the hell, Dizzy? Did you eat one of my jellies?"
"Nuh uh," Brittany replies airily, kicking her feet onto the low table. "They didn't have a lot left when I got there. But I asked them to give me whatever jellies they had. And I maybe gave one to that guy I forced to leave. Oh!" Her eyes widen in surprise and she points at an apple fritter, "I love that kind. Can I have it?"
Her best friend just rolls her eyes and nods in response. How the other girl doesn't know her favorite donuts are in the box is beyond her. Brittany is the one, after all, who picked them up.
Lucy sips gingerly at her much-too-hot coffee. It's technically her first cup of the morning. The one Santana made went cold sometime between the first utterance of the word girlfriend and Mike and Tina pounding on the bathroom door to tell them that they had to leave.
She clears her throat and, blinking a few times in Brittany's general direction, asks. "I'm sorry, did you say you forced someone to leave?"
"Mmhm." Talking around a mouthful of pastry, Brittany says, "There was this creepy looking bald guy standing across the street. I thought he was homeless at first and, really, a homeless man deserves a jelly, don't you think, San?"
She doesn't wait for an answer because it was mostly hypothetical. And it's not like she expects Santana to agree. When it comes to jellies, her best friend is very territorial.
"Then I saw that he had this huge camera and I was like, 'not cool, homeless guy'. Because either he stole it or he wasn't using the coins people throw into his paper cup very wisely. Either way, as far as I was concerned, he lost the donut."
Lucy blinks owlishly at the girl. She opens her mouth to say something but realizes quite quickly that she doesn't have the words to express her confusion.
"Wait for it," Santana advises, patting her arm gently and offering her a chocolate twist.
Brittany licks the glaze from her finger and makes a small, happy sound before pointing to Santana's bedroom door. "Then I saw that he was taking pictures of your bedroom window. That's not just creepy; it's icky. And double creepy." She nods knowingly before shrugging nonchalantly. "So, I told him I was a cop and that it was against the law to take pictures of a private residence."
She takes giant gulp from her Nesquik bottle and lets the chocolate milk wash down the last of her donut. After wiping her mouth, she continues, "I told him I was technically off duty but that I could still arrest him. And - this was super smart of me - when he asked to see my badge I just opened the box of donuts and stared him down. Guess that was proof enough because he grabbed one of Santana's raspberry jellies and took off real fast."
"Raspberry? Aw, you're kiddin' me!" Santana whines and pokes her finger into one of the other filled donuts. "Ew, lemon. Gross."
Getting up from her spot next to Santana, Lucy makes her way into her girlfriend's room and creeps to the window. Peeking around the curtain, she confirms that it's true - the paparazzo from the night before is gone. She blows out a breath and leans against the wall.
Normally, she would just brush it off and move on, but this time was a little scary. Not only was she followed; but, Santana was with her. With the conversation they'd had earlier that morning, there was a good chance Santana would continue to be involved in her media appearances (scheduled or not for) for a long time. And something about having the other girl act as a getaway driver just doesn't sit right with her.
Grabbing her phone from the little table next to Santana's bed, Lucy punches out a quick text.
Luckily, the man with the camera didn't think to harass Mike or Tina as they left about an hour before Brittany's arrival. The two had quite a drive ahead of them before Mike had to make his way to the airport for his flight home. Lucy felt badly enough about interrupting their time together with her issues: first the paparazzo, then the media stuff ... then the Santana thing, well she had to admit that turned out pretty well.
Tell me when it hits and what you're saying – and try to keep them away for just a little while. I'd like some time with her without them swarming.
"I'm just saying that the next time you offer someone something, don't make it the one donut I specifically asked you to get for me, that's all," Santana argues
Brittany frowns and crosses her arms. "I didn't tell him he could have it."
"Did you tell him he couldn't?"
"Well, no," the other girl answers, pouting. "But he was a maybe-homeless creeper guy! What was I supposed to do?"
Lucy quietly steps behind the couch, rests her hands on Santana's shoulders, and gently shushes her girlfriend. "Thank you, Brittany," she says very carefully. "I was a little worried that he'd never leave. I owe you one."
Santana huffs and crosses her arms over her chest. "Then let her give away your donuts."
"Oh, stop," Lucy says with a chuckle. She drops a kiss on the top of Santana's head. "You'll live if you have to share with me. Right?"
Not having been present for the earlier morning's schedule of debates and activities (including bath tub sitting, near-walking out and, according to Tina, eerily quiet private time), Brittany's brows raise at the display of affection. She narrows her eyes and leans back, as though trying to figure out something very complex.
"Does this mean we're allowed to talk about it now?" she asks hesitantly.
Santana reaches up and rests one of her hands on top of Lucy's. "Talk about what?" she asks, playing dumb.
Brittany leans forward and stage whispers, "That you want to bone Lucy."
"I don't want to - Jesus, Brittany!" Santana sits up quickly, her voice strained and much louder than she intended. It takes her a moment, in her shock, to realize that Lucy's hands are no longer on her shoulders and that Lucy is, in fact, kneeling on the floor behind the couch, giggling with her hands covering her mouth.
"Oh, okay," Santana says moodily as she crosses her arms over her chest. "Laugh it up."
"It's not like you're not totally obvious about it," Brittany states simply, seemingly unaware of the daggers her best friend is glaring at her. She turns her attention back to the pastry box, her hand hovering over the remaining donuts as she considers which to choose. "I mean, did you call Tina to ask her if you should let me choose my side of the bed when I stayed over? No," she answers for Santana.
Lucy's giggles fade away and she bites her lip shyly. "You asked Tina if you should let me choose … "
"No," Santana says sullenly. "She didn't even know you were here until you made your grand appearance in my pajamas"
Brittany's head bobbles back and forth as she tries to make her decision. She almost picks up a bear claw – something she paid extra for because the baker calls them pastries instead of donuts. It's all the same to her. Remembering that she is trying to be a vegetarian, she moves her hand over to the lemon custard that Santana didn't want.
"She asked me," she informs Lucy. "I told her that she should just take the middle and see what you do."
"Which I didn't do, so - stop looking at me like that." Santana does her best to sneer but her mouth refuses to cooperate. Instead of her lips pulling back, or even down, they simply tighten with the ends curled up. The best she can do is narrow her eyes as she asserts, "I'm not cute or whatever ridiculous thing you're thinking right now."
"I was thinking sweet, actually," Lucy admits as she tilts her head and looks adoringly at her girlfriend.
"Yeah, well," Santana tries not to smile. She rolls her eyes to stress her unhappiness at being the focus of the conversation but when she's done, she just finds herself caught in Lucy's gaze. The soft "whatever" she breathes out is practically a whisper and doesn't come across anywhere near as indignant as she aims for.
Closing the pastry box, Brittany leans back against the couch and, once again, puts her feet up on the table. "Good comeback," she mumbles around her mouthful.
"Okay, let's back up," Santana says as she glances away from Lucy and puts her hands in the air. "No. To answer your earlier question," she looks directly at Brittany. "No, you aren't allowed to talk about it."
"Why not?" the other girl whines. "Is Tina allowed to talk about it?"
"Tina didn't say I wanted to - and I quote - bone someone," Santana tells her.
Brittany shakes her head and corrects Santana, "I didn't say that either. I said, Lucy. I didn't say someone. I specifically said Lucy and I remember because I'm still not really sure what her name is or what I'm supposed to call her. But when I called her Lucy, she didn't say not to. So I guess that's what we're going with today. It might be different tomorrow, maybe. But today, I'm calling her Lucy."
"Lucy is my name, Brittany," the other girl says. "It's what my friends and my family call me. And it's what you should call me when we're hanging out in private, okay?"
Santana watches her best friend nod before waving her hands in front of her. "That's all nice and touching and whatever but, just – look. My relationship with Lucy is just that - mine." When her girlfriend's brows lift in question, she amends her statement to say, "Well, ours. But - you know what I mean."
Having Lucy's relationship belong to her is harder than Santana expects. No matter how hard she tries to hold onto some bit of "them" that doesn't include a larger "us," there is someone lurking around the corner to instigate themselves into their relationship. If it's not her friends bugging her, then it's Eli. And if it's not Eli, it's complete strangers. And sometimes, when she's particularly unlucky, it's a combination of the two.
Thanks to the paparazzo fiasco (otherwise declared by Tina as The Miracle of Lutana), Lucy is forced to reschedule a coloring appointment with Eli. Not having an excuse, she cites that she has to run home to change and then tells him a very abridged version of what happened the night before.
Eli, of course, teases her by hemming and hawing before agreeing – conditionally and with a squealed "I knew it!" In exchange for the inconvenience of shifting around his (not really all that busy) schedule, he makes her promise to let him be the third wheel on one of her coffee dates with Santana.
Lucy readily agrees because she knows that, once he badgers her during her sitting, Santana won't really be in for much of Eli's exuberant line of questioning. In fact, she fully expects that by the time the interview a few days later with the folks from that movie review television show is done, he'll already be on to the next bit gossipy of news.
"Spill," Eli says the second the two girls sit down. He's leaning back in his chair in a relaxed and practiced pose, and looking at them smugly.
"Eli," Lucy starts, drawing out his name as a warning. "It's not what you're thinking. We've been over this."
"We've been over this," he says as he points a tattooed finger at Lucy. "But we haven't," he adds winking at Santana.
After a quick squint, he makes a show of looking the girls up and down. Crossing his arms, he taps his chin as he processes what he's seen before and compares it with what he is currently seeing.
"Mmm, no. I can see how this isn't at all what I'm thinking," he teases.
He was already sitting at a little round table when they joined him at the coffee shop. Eli's large metal case rested on one chair, leaving the chair across from him and the one across from his kit empty. When the girls arrived, he noted how they pulled the vacant chairs together when they sat across from him.
From the moment they sat down, their shoulders were touching. He was pretty sure they were holding hands under the table but he didn't want to look because, well, checking out girls isn't his bag. And if he wants to get anywhere with the cute guy behind the counter, getting caught looking under the table at two girls, one of whom is wearing a skirt, wouldn't do him any favors.
"How about I get us something to drink while you clear up whatever it is you need to clear up?" Santana suggests, already standing. She rests her hand on Lucy's shoulder and asks, "The usual?"
A quick nod and soft "thank you" sends the other girl on her way to the counter. Eli is half-tempted to ask her to put in a good word for him with the barista. He thinks better of it and reminds himself that he doesn't need any help. If he keeps glancing over and making eye contact, and if he offers his trademark combination smirk-eyelash bat enough, then he'll be able to figure out if the interest is reciprocated.
Except it's hard to keep eye contact when Lucy's shoe smacks into his knee.
"Ow," he whines as he bends over and rubs the sore spot. "What was that for?"
"I told you to knock it off," Lucy reminds him. "I told you when I got to your place, I told you while you did my hair, I told you when I left and," she pauses, her jaw tightening for a moment as she glares at him, "I told you when I texted you that we were on our way. Cut. It. Out."
Eli finds it scary sometimes how much Lucy can sound just like his mother. All that's missing is his friend grinding out a "If I told you once, I've told you a thousand times …" through gritted teeth.
Heaving a long-suffering sigh, Eli sits back in his chair and self-consciously looks over at the counter. Luckily, the cute guy is too busy taking Santana's order to have noticed him getting reprimanded by his friend.
It's almost too bad. He could have used his adorable "what'd I do?" pouty face.
"Look, along with the uncanny ability to kick the knee equivalent of the funny bone on the first try," he begins, his attention focusing on his friend, "you have a hot girlfriend who obviously adores you - enough to know your coffee order and call it the usual - and it's only taken you about seventy-five thousand years to get here. So, excuse me if I don't take the opportunity to tease you." He leans back, stretching his leg out in an effort to walk off the sting without actually having to get up.
Leaning across the table, Lucy whispers, "Teasing is okay as long as it's not over the top, okay?" Remember her girlfriend's reaction to Brittany's 'you want to bone her' comment, she explains, "I don't think she's really comfortable with that kind of joking around. So, just." She shrugs and leans back. "Don't go overboard, okay?"
Eli nods distractedly and hums low under his breath. He's pretty sure that Santana isn't just okay with joking around (of almost every kind) but that the girl is a pro at it. He's had the opportunity of hanging out with her sans Lucy and the girl never came across as anything other than a kindred spirit.
"If you insist," he concedes. "But I think you're underestimating your little hot tamale."
"Ohmigod," Lucy rolls her eyes. "Please don't call her that."
"Am I her?" Santana asks, setting two paper coffee cups on the table. "If so, what am I not being called?"
"Nothing" Lucy says at the same time Eli says, "Hot tamale."
He simply smirks when his friend glares at him.
"Hey, I'll take it," Santana replies as she winks at Eli and sits down, her chair scooting just a tiny bit more toward her girlfriend's. "I thought, with Eli's new-found love of Star Wars, that there was some kind of Sith lord joke or something. Maybe something about me turning you to the Dark Side?" She turns to Lucy and whispers, "He's still working on figuring out when to drop those references, y'know?"
Lucy decides not mention Santana's penchant for throwing references around willy-nilly when she's feeling particularly stressed or embarrassed. Instead, she chuckles as she says, "Not everyone's a pro."
Santana smiles brightly at the compliment and, whether it's good or bad fortune, a harsh clicking sound coming from somewhere behind her lets her know that she'll probably be seeing the adorable grin she received in returned again. And again.
Deciding to look on the bright side, she considers it a blessing that it's midday. Had they decided to meet with Eli any time after dusk, there would have been a series of flashes to go along with the consistent clicking. The gossip about their not-quite confirmed relationship is fresh enough that the media is interested. And so are Quinn's fans.
From the giddy stance - almost running place - and the wide smile, Santana figures this amateur photographer is the latter.
"I'm so sorry," Lucy whispers, leaning close to her girlfriend.
Santana shrugs and plays it off as if it doesn't bother her. Even though she's not wild about her personal time being a photo op for a complete stranger, she knows better than to mention it as anything even coming anywhere close to being defined as an intrusion. This type of occurrence is something she has to accept if she wants to be with Lucy.
And she does.
Would it have killed the girl to have silenced her camera app before taking pictures? At least then Santana could try to pretend not to notice the semi-intrusion.
"It's part of the package, right?" If she's going to do this, then she's going to do it all the way. Putting on her best supportive girlfriend voice, she suggests, "Do you think you should maybe sign something for her or, like, pose or something before she pees her pants."
"She is excitable, isn't she?" Eli asks no one in particular as his mouth twists in distaste. "Like a little puppy."
"I've never invited this kind of thing ..." With her girlfriend seemingly urging her on, Lucy mutters, "I guess." Heaving a deep sigh, Lucy waves the girl over and steels herself.
"Ohmigod," the girl repeats under her breath as she hurries out of line and over to the table. "You're Quinn Fabray and you're Santana Lopez - and you're," she frowns, some of her excitement dying down. "I don't know who you are but that's okay."
Eli huffs and crosses his arms over his chest.
Trying not to frown, Santana purses her lips. It's one thing for Lucy to be recognized - she expects it; her girlfriend is a superhero for goodness sakes. But for this random stranger to notice her, to even know her name, sort of freaks her out.
"My friends couldn't help but notice you in line," Quinn says diplomatically. "I'll admit that I don't normally offer, but would you like me to take a picture with you?" The question sounds so weird to Quinn and she hopes it doesn't come off as obnoxious.
"Seriously? That'd be awesome!" the girl says a little too loudly. "I can't believe this is happening!"
Santana has the urge to agree with the sentiment but holds her tongue. She knows this is supposed to happen. People are supposed to want to meet movie stars. And it's not like they hadn't been spotted by the paparazzi enough times for her to realize Quinn's draw. Somehow, when it's cute little kids, it's a little easier for her to swallow. This is a grown up – a young woman, but a grown up, nonetheless.
Quinn stands up to get into pose position, her arm stretched out for the other girl to step closer. When Santana gets up to scoot her chair out of the way, the girl with the camera shakes her head and excitedly says, "No, no. With you, too! Please?" She holds her camera out for Eli to take. "Would you mind?"
Biting back the 'yes' that threatens to fly from his lips, Eli rolls his eyes and grudgingly takes the camera.
Santana tilts her head. "You sure you don't want one with just you and Quinn?" she asks, shifting on her feet uncomfortably. "I'm not the main event."
"Yes, you are! " the girl argues happily as she waves exuberantly at Santana as though trying to pull her closer just by moving her hands quickly through the air in front of her. "You're Santana of Quinn and Santana!"
Quinn bites the inside of her cheek and, for a quick second, considers digging into her bag for her cell phone. Had she missed a text from Will? She was pretty sure he was on board with the whole head's up thing. And, as of yet, she'd heard nothing about his statement to the press on this matter.
Eli shakes his head and holds up a finger. 'No, no. I believe it's Santana and Quinn, Incorporated, LLC. Isn't that right?" He winks at Santana, letting her know that he's playing around.
"Okay, look." Santana takes a small step back. "I'm not in a movie or anything and, y'know, that means I'm not the one you should be getting your picture taken with. I'm just hanging out with Quinn." Pointing to her girlfriend, she adds with a tiny smile, "She's the star."
"You're both stars!" the girl says altogether much too loudly. "My friends are going to be so jealous that I met you. I can't believe I'm not freaking out! Ohmigod, I'm totally about to freak out!" She giggles manically and covers her mouth to try to keep her excitement from escaping.
Eli's eyes widen. "Take the picture," he says through clenched teeth. "Do it before she – what's your name?"
"Anna! Hi!" Anna pushes her hand out to try to shake his hand before deciding that, if she's going to shake anyone's hand, it's not going to be the guy she's never seen before.
"Okay," he drawls out as he watches Quinn, and then Santana, quickly accept firm handshakes. "… before Anna spontaneously combusts. I did not just spend hours on Quinn's hair to have to pick pieces of exploded fan out of her it."
Quinn winces at the look on her girlfriend's face. She's nothing short of shell-shocked. "How about," she offers softly, "one with all of us, my friend Eli included. And then one of just the two of us. C'mon, Eli. Your arms are long enough to do it selfie-style, right?"
Frowning, Eli shakes his head. "Hey, hey!" He hushes her and leans close to her ear. "Ix-nay on the elfie-say in front of the cute man in the green apron, capice?"
Stepping up next to him, Santana whispers, "She meant the photo, you perv."
After a moment of consideration, he calmly says, "Oh. Sure. Yeah, we can do that."
It takes a moment for the girl calm down enough not to giggle maniacally at the fact that she's sandwiched between Quinn Fabray and her maybe-possibly (almost definitely) girlfriend. Eli counts off, halfway not caring if anyone else is paying attention because he's in charge of the shutter and when he's good and ready (looking especially hot), he's going to press the button.
"Thank you so much!" Anna says loudly, her voice still outside of the normal volume range for a conversation. "You're so amazing and inspiring and," she pauses, as though catching herself. "I'm sorry I'm gushing. It's just that there aren't a lot of people out there that look like me or my friends, you know? Not that any of us look like you but you know what I mean and I know it's crazy to be so excited about seeing you." She smiles brightly at Santana. "With you. But, there's no one else so out there right now."
Santana presses her lips together and just looks at Quinn. She's not sure she's supposed to say anything because, let's face it, her girlfriend's public life is controlled by a white man with a Jheri curl.
Quinn blinks a few times before shyly smiling. "I'm not," her head shakes softly as she looks at the girl. "I'm not doing anything special, you know. I'm just like you - living my life. And, okay, sometimes people want to take a picture with me," she says with a light chuckle. "But mostly, I'm just trying to be happy." With a quick look at Santana, followed by a wink, she adds, "I'm pretty sure I'm closer than I've ever been."
"Q," Eli slowly warns. "More ix-naying is probably better than not with the ix-naying, y'know?"
Quinn smiles sweetly and reaches out her hand. Wiggling her fingers, her smile grows as Santana's hand slips into her grasp. Turning Anna, she says, "Tell your friends you heard it directly from me, okay? But tell them fast because I'm expecting my people to spill the beans any minute now."
"Are you serious?" the girl's mouth dropped open in shock. "Are you confirming it?"
Quinn's brows arch as she tangles her fingers with Santana's. "Why not?" she asks, and she lightly, and a little nervously, laughs. Clearing her throat, she softly announces, "Santana and I are, in fact, together - in a relationship. I'm pretty proud of it, actually; so, why should I wait for someone else to tell you for me?"
Lifting Quinn's hand, Santana kisses her knuckles and whispers, "Kinda proud of you." She narrows her eyes at the fan and blows out a faux-annoyed breath. "'Course, now she's gonna want another picture with us or something. Way to go."
Anna simply smiles and shrugs, indicating that Santana's not wrong.
Eli snaps his fingers and motions to Anna's camera. "C'mon, give it up. One more and then I get the girls all to myself. They owe me for messing up my entire work schedule with she-nanigans and girl drama."
About thirty minutes after their encounter with the fan, Quinn's phone dings loudly from her bag. After rummaging around in it, she pulls her phone out and winces as she sees the screen lit up with her manager's name prominently displayed. "I should ..." she pointed over her shoulder to the outdoor seating area of the shop. "Who knows how much trouble I'm going to be in …"