You think today, the thing you're most unsure of is how to quiet your memories.

Because here in the present you're able to look into Santana's eyes and trust in her truths and see forward into the future, yet, your memories of days not long gone by are taking great delight in stoking the most silent of your fears. You see the dankness of an ill lit alleyway. Your tummy turns sick with tension when you remember Quinn pressed up tight against Santana and demanding truth of a different kind.

You can't help that you fell quiet last night.

You can't help that it took all the way until morning to find words that shaped your woes; your spoon stuck in your coffee cup, your fingers stuck to your spoon, and absently stirring at sugar that had long since dissolved. And,

"What if…" You'd said, meeting Santana's eyes slowly, "…what if Quinn wants…"

You, was how you wanted to say it, yet your mouth clamped closed and refused to make it a sound; not so soon after the you had been so thoroughly declared yours. You just shrugged it out. You implored her silently not to drop her eyes away from you or to dismiss your words behind her own set of worries, and she didn't. Not entirely. She walked her fingertips your way across the countertop, she shook her head despondent, and, "Brittany…"

Spoken sad, as if she was pained by the fact you were even posing the question. Your memory is impeccable when it comes to feelings though, and you remember exactly how it felt when you saw that certain scene unfolding before you.

It was misery. You remember.

It had spread your eyes wider. It'd asked her for more than your spoken name as an affirmation;

"I just… What if, Santana?"

"She won't."

"But…"

"She won't," she'd said, hard. And then she sighed. A deep inside sigh. A long and protracted breath that'd brought forth her explanatory words; "It's never really been about the sex for Quinn; it's about control and power and… I rejected her, Britt, I was so fucking mean to her; she won't go there again. She'll wait for me to be the one who comes crawling back to her."

"But you won't, right?"

And again, "Brittany…" Bringing your eyes tight to hers, "…You know how I feel… You know that I…"

And her eyebrows did that thing where they knit really tight together, and her teeth took a grip of her lip, "…You know I wouldn't give this up for anything. I wouldn't give you up for anything. I want this. I want you."

You listened to her words and within that present, you trusted absolutely in her truth. Her honest about everything truth. The truth that lifted her up from her stool and walked her around the breakfast bar, and pressed her lips against yours in the sweetest of kisses.

"I'm not going anywhere," she assured you.

And then she left. To go and meet Quinn.

And then you left. To go and meet Sam.

You still have another three hours until you're due to meet Quinn for yourself.

Like another pile of something to add to your already growing pile of something that you can't quite put a name to. Because today you a have a late lunch meeting with Holly and Team Chang and Rachel Berry… And of course, Quinn. And maybe for a moment, you understand the whole sentiment of hating Mondays, because it's most definitely a feeling you identify with today.

Or you're just being melodramatic. Or…

Maybe you're a little scared too. Just a little.

Not enough to question your Santana-sized certainties, but enough to pinch your smile. Enough to steal it from your face and replace it with a scowl, a slight frown, a nothing's up when everything feels down. Because Sam had asked;

"What's up, Britt?"

And nothing. Because it's only a little fear. It's nothing to worry about. Not really.

You think.

You think about your ideas for the show and you push the woes aside. You don't let yourself look at your phone at all after the first thirty minutes of hearing nothing from Santana. You don't expect her to check in with you, yet she did insist she would speak to you once she was done. She assured you in all the ways she knew how.

So you work.

You stop by Holly's office to discuss in person the ideas you sent across to her at the weekend, and when she seems on board with all of them, you settle into the chair opposite her and you listen to her expansions. Because you thought it might be fun to do some kind of talent style showdown instead of a political one, and have Lord Tubbington be the judge. You know for a fact that Quinn and Rachel used to compete through the medium of song for leads in school productions, and you figure it'll definitely be a feature that appeals to your audience at large.

Holly takes all of that and insists that a stage be added to your mocked up bedroom set, that you have full on bands backing both girls in whatever songs they choose to sing, and she insists you've done it again;

"Absolute gold," she informs you before you leave her office. "The eyes upstairs are still watching, Brittany. You're going places, Girl. Big places."

She winks your way and fires off a finger gunned salute in your direction, and she tells you with the biggest grin that she'll see you later at lunch.

Quinn's late.

Not for lunch, you're still an hour early before that, sat behind the desk in your office and going over schedules, yet Quinn is meant to be here already to go over them with you, and so far she isn't. She sent you a text twenty minutes ago to tell you she was on her way, so you know that she's coming, but still. She's late; and her message in your inbox is the only one you received so far.

It's otherwise empty, and the day is still feeling crappy. Even when Sam launches a rolled up wad of paper in your direction, all you do is turn and pout your way through a frown instead of firing back his way. And again, he asks;

"Seriously Britt, are you gonna tell me what's bothering you, or do I need to come over there and find out for myself?"

He points at the phone you're holding as if that holds the answers to your what's up, and you drop it to your desk as if it's nothing. You lean back your head and you stretch out your shoulders and you turn to him.

Your chair, just a touch. Just a slight angle of rotation.

"Don't you ever just have a bad day?" you ask.

He tilts his head on your question and he looks a little closer;

"Sure," he says. "Sometimes I do. But you don't Britt. Not really… Not in the whole time I've known you. Your smile only ever slips if there's a really good reason."

You contemplate his words. You value his judgements.

You trace his line of enquiry back in your mind to that place in the alleyway again. You see how close your dream can reside to a nightmare, and you close your eyes on all of it. Just for a moment, just for one long breath in and then one long breath out.

Because really, when it comes right down to it;

"I told Santana I love her," you say to Sam, and at his look you bite hard at your lip.

He just eyes you confused; he tilts his head to the side and makes his mouth into a giant-sized pout;

"Is that not a good thing?"

"It's a really good thing," you assure him soft, but you can still feel your eyebrows knitting together, you can still feel your thoughts fleeing in all directions. Because you've never done this before. And it's not that you're scared, because you know Santana will be there to catch you…

…You tell yourself you're sure of it. Certain, in fact. And anyway, falling to you only feels like flying.

Only you keep landing in that alleyway, beneath the cover of the clouds. And there's echoes hidden there of words she's spoken, and of worries and of fears. Because;

What if I can't?

She asked you before. And maybe now you're actually starting to consider that question.

Not solidly, it's not as if you're suddenly second guessing the things that you know to be true. It's more of a sub-conscious niggling, like a tiny voice, or a needle in a haystack that just keeps digging into your side. Like a thorn perhaps, or,

"Quinn!" Sam says loud, lifting your head from down, and bringing your eyes back up.

And sure enough, there she stands. And sure enough, just as you always do, you observe and you take her measure.

The set high smile and the eyes shining bright. The whites and the yellows that mark out her clothes, complemented perfectly by the dainty little bag she carries hooked over her arm. You watch her walk across the room, and her posture makes you think of skipping, like there's something gay beneath her bounce that's lifting her lips all happy. She exclaims her hello to Sam as if she truly is delighted to see him, and she forgoes the Hollywood air-kiss in favour of a friendly fist bump.

You just wonder at all you're seeing and you wait for her to turn.

Slowly.

As if maybe she's pausing a moment too.

And, "Brittany," she says, less sure sounding than when she greeted Sam. Her tone inching towards inquisitive as she walks her way towards you; "How was your weekend?"

"Good. How was Yale?"

"Good."

"Awesome."

She doesn't hold her fist out to you the same as Sam, yet neither does she lean down to kiss the air beside your face. For a moment it's like you're caught again in some weird staring-standoff, and you really do wonder at what her silent line of questioning might be.

You lift your eyebrow and so does she.

She smiles, and so do you.

"So tell me what the plan is for today?" she asks, bypassing the pause and sitting herself down in the chair opposite your desk. "Because I know your email said lunch with Rachel Berry, but I'm assuming that was a really bad typo?"

You hum a hmmm and shrug your shoulder, and she rolls her eyes up and away before re-centering her gaze on you; "And I absolutely have to be there?"

"It'd help if you were; we're finalising the format for the show, so," you shrug your shoulder again, and you catch Sam's movement from the corner of your eye. He walks over to your desk and perches on the edge - his smile large enough to compensate for any lift you're not finding, and with his words he fills in the format, or he states quite simply;

"Looks like we're finally getting our battle of the bands."

He grins at you both, and Quinn arches her eyebrow even higher than before.

"Dare I ask what that means?"

"Pretty much what Sam said," you inform her. "We're gonna go with a sing-off style situation and Lord Tubbington will be the judge, and…"

You stop because both of her eyebrows are now hugging her hairline and her mouth has slipped to leave her jaw-dropped and gaping. Her eyes widen before they narrow, and you wait while she brings her face back under control. It takes less than a second.

You count it.

"You want me to have a sing off against Rachel Berry?"

You nod and Sam says hell yeah! He bumps his fist against her shoulder and chants something about Team Fabray. Only,

Her eyes don't leave yours and her lips sit in a tightened straight line.

"It'll be totally cool," you offer, leaning forward in your chair, "Holly's got these ideas to build a real stage and have you backed up by a real band, and-"

"Have you heard Rachel sing yet?"

You tilt your head and think it through;

"Well, not really," you admit, "I've heard her on the show, but not in person. You can sing too, though, yeah? I'm sure you'll give her a run for her money, Quinn; you shouldn't be worried."

She looks at you. She stares at you.

You count one and then two and then,

"I'm not worried."

Yet she looks…

affected. Like the thought of facing Rachel in a contest of vocal ability is certainly a worry.

You're not surprised.

You are a little surprised though when she turns that look back into a smile. A big one, the one that actually catches her eyes and shows her teeth. She flashes it at you; she lifts it up to Sam.

"If I wasn't so sure of beating her in the long run, I'd perhaps be somewhat concerned. As it is, this will hopefully just prove to be an amusing distraction…"

And for a minute you are distracted. And Quinn just sits and keeps on smiling.

A smile she carries with her all the way to lunch.

It irritates you.

Under normal circumstances, Quinn smiling this much is how you'd hope to face all of your work days, but on this day, every time she fleets a fast grin in your direction, something in you twists and turns and rages close to violent. Like a storm collecting above the clouds.

And you bite it back. You bite your lip.

You try and smile as often as she does.

You're faking through everything though, because your inbox still sits empty, and maybe that irritates you too. Like, you could text Santana, you could be all blasé and - hey babe, how'd it go with Quinn - except. Something in you is making you wait, and maybe you're seeing if she'll come to you first. If things have shifted enough so as you don't always have to go looking for her.

Maybe.

You hope. Or maybe you wonder.

Or maybe you focus all of your thoughts onto work, and you follow Quinn's smile with all of your faked enthusiasm, and you ignore Sam's looks, and you throw thumbs up at Holly, and when Rachel arrives at the restaurant and she leans across the table to take your hand in hers, you take it and you shake it, and you all sit down to lunch.

At least most of you sit down.

Rachel stays standing. She leans across and takes Holly's hand. She makes a point of not missing out Sam. And then she stops and she looks at Quinn. She holds her hand straight out in front of her.

The table is large and round, and Quinn is seated at your side, and you can't help but flick your glance her way in the moment;

And there's still a curve to her lip. Up, and not down.

She says, "Really, Rachel?"

She raises her brow; "I don't quite think we're at the holding hands stage yet, do you?"

And you look. You watch Rachel falter for a moment. You see Quinn's curve rise higher.

"I'm just trying to take the civil approach," Rachel eventually replies, and Quinn finally leans forward and takes her hand. She shakes it, slowly.

"A civil approach? But when have we ever found any fun in that?"

She holds onto Rachel's hand for longer than you think is probably necessary, and you note how long they hold each other's gaze…

And for a moment you forget all about Santana. Kind of.

Because this is something you've waited to see. Perhaps without even realizing it, you've wanted to take a closer look at this dynamic without Santana in the mix; you've wanted to follow the flow of their words and measure their meanings and rotate another piece of the puzzle until you can find a way to make it fit.

Like, there's so much you still don't know here.

You know Rachel wanted Finn and you know that she got him.

And Quinn wanted…

You think.

Like, maybe that's the whole of it. She wants without knowing, so she just wants everything.

Like a hole that can't be filled.

Because even with everything she has, she never quite looks satisfied, you think. And you think. And you keep on watching. And it really does make you wonder at what Quinn actually wants. Not here and now, not four weeks from now or five weeks from now, but long gone from the now.

Because you've only ever heard tales of a dream told from Santana's perspective. You've not dipped your own words into Quinn's dreams; you've never asked her future for yourself.

In the actual now you don't think you need to wonder at what her goals are at all.

Her gaze is mainly focused on Rachel, and you see her guarding her words the same way that you are, yet, unlike you, she holds the look of someone waiting to strike. Like, when Holly announces her ideas to fun-fill the singing contest and Rachel says;

"We are going to keep some political meaning in the show, right? I believe highlighting policies is extremely important at this part of the process, and I'm sure tha-"

"You're still the most sanctimonious shrew I've ever had the displeasure of meeting?"

Quinn shapes all of her words around her steadfast smile, and she graces it not only in Rachel's direction, but also Holly's and the rest of Rachel's team; "I think we're all aware how terribly important policies are Rachel, but this is MTV, and this is meant to be exciting… Do you really think the audience is going to want to watch you getting far too turned on by your father's budget balancing plans?"

She smiles again at Holly. She rolls her eyes at you. "I think the singing idea is a great idea; I'm completely onboard with Holly's plan."

Holly returns the smile and she thanks Quinn. She insists to Rachel that party politics are maybe a subject too heavy to unload onto Lord Tubbington, and you nod your head in complete agreement. You watch Rachel's gaze operate the opposite to what you expect.

You see her soften for a second. You notice the slight lean to the left of her head;

"You actually want to sing with me Quinn?" she asks.

And there's a pause.

And it's brilliant.

Like the perfect parry that leaves Quinn the one to falter; that leaves room for Rachel to take her words further and drip delight over her own memories of the past. Because;

"Our voices actually complement each other really well; I may have won all of the leads in our school productions, but Quinn played second string quite fantastically and up on stage we really did have the greatest fun. I'm honestly touched that Quinn wants to revisit those memories though…" She teases it out, glancing ever so sweetly in Quinn's direction. "…Especially considering how much she insisted she hated it at the time…"

She trails off her words with a giant beaming smile, and for a moment there's silence.

You gather your gaze around the table.

You see Sam's smile hiding behind the bite of his lip.

You see Holly's absolute delight at the contest shaping up before her.

Team Chang are staring down at their laps and exchanging shady glances.

And Quinn.

She's still holding a smile of her own. You think it looks dangerous.

You're sure it looks determined.

Or perhaps she just looks determinedly at Rachel;

"I'm going to enjoy this so much," she says.

And you're sure she now sounds dangerous. Like she's talking about more than a singing contest, and about more than a high school rivalry, and…

"It'll be just like old times," Rachel suggests, apparently unaffected by Quinn's tone.

"Not exactly; I'd say the spoils are much greater this time around."

The words lift Rachel's brow in question and Quinn continues;

"This time the winner really will be taking it all."

Quinn's predictions leave an ominous taste in your mouth for the rest of your lunch, and even though the atmosphere at the table never again crackled as it did in that instant, there was also never an air of ease that settled down over everyone's shoulders to make the event an enjoyable one. It stayed tense and tight and it teetered every now and again towards rude words and abrupt words, and you're sure by the end of the meeting, the only ones really left smiling are Holly, Rachel, and of course, Quinn.

It makes you feel, not for the first time, like a pawn in a giant game of chess that you never asked to play; like everyone here has some kind of messed up agenda, or moves that they're mapping five plays in advance, when all you've wanted to do the whole way along is to make a really great TV show.

And love Santana.

You sigh.

Because it's the easiest thing you've ever done; yet,

…Not everything about this is easy.

You're back at your desk, and Quinn is sat across from you, and Sam is out scouting the location for tomorrow's filming, and Team Chang are out of the office, and,

"You seem ever so un-Brittany like, today," Quinn pronounces, leaning forward in her chair. She folds her arms onto your desk and she looks up at you with her crafted smile in place. "Did lunch with Berry unsettle your stomach as much as it did mine?"

"Rachel was fine," you insist, and you shrug.

"Rachel's never fine; she's irritating… Like an itch you can't ever seem to scratch."

"Like an obsession?"

"No; more like poison ivy." And she smiles up at you again. She makes her voice soft and light and airily pretty, and she asks you more about the schedule for the week ahead. She brushes off any more immediate talk about Rachel, and when you ask her for song ideas for the super-spectacular singing edition of Fondue For Two, all she says is that she'll think about it later. She ushers you onward. She flits all the way through your upcoming week, and then she throws you for a fast loop. Or she loops her words back to the past and she asks you;

"Did you manage to watch the show Friday night?"

And she sits a little further forward in her chair.

And sure, you say.

"And..?"

It feels like there's something loaded behind her question, and you work quick to separate your memories from your face. You don't smile at the thought of Santana by your side. You don't follow that thought through to Friday evening's conclusions.

Or you do, like a fast flash of unforgettable pleasure that forces you to drop your eyes quick to cover the moment. When you lift them again, your gaze has reclaimed professional and sure;

"It was awesome," you tell her, subverting intentions. "Like, Rachel's part was really cool too, and I loved how she had her dads doing the karaoke for back-up, but we're still on top, so,"

"Did you have one of your little viewing parties?"

"Uh-huh. Sam and Mercedes came over… And Lord Tubbington was there."

"Sounds like a lot of fun."

"It was," you agree, nodding your head. "We always have a blast. They're really good friends."

She smiles at you and she watches you and you ask her;

"Did you manage to catch the show?"

She shakes her head no; "I checked the website after, but I was extremely busy Friday night; was Rachel's part really that impressive?"

She doesn't look particularly concerned, or even irritated to be talking about Rachel again, and you nod your head in honesty. You tell her a little more about all of the action from New York, and you watch her smile creep ever higher, and she eases her attention even further across your desk; like, her elbows creep an extra inch forward and you swear she's hanging on your every word as if she's memorising it all for future usage.

When you come to a stop, she holds her silence.

And her smile.

And then she tells you, as certain as you've ever heard her;

"I really am going to love taking her down, Brittany."

Her words still bright, but not at all airy. Her eyes alight and shining sureties.

And it's like, you're feeling confident too; all of the polls are heading steadily in your direction, and whatever the mythical effect everyone keeps talking about actually is, it seems to be doing enough to keep the audience on your side. Yet still; you know not to make assumptions when there's so much more still to come. You know, honestly, somewhere deep inside, that you can't really declare a winner and divide the spoils until the dust of war has settled.

Quinn looks sure though.

So sure.

As if she's spotted the future already and she knows she'll be landing on top.

You can't help but ask her; to dig a little deeper.

"How can you be sure though?"

"Because I am."

"But… how?"

You ask it again, and still her lips don't halt in their task of smiling. And it's not a fake smile; you don't see her muscles working to craft disguises you have to sneak to peek behind, it's just there, as if it belongs there. As if she's sure right down to the depths of her being and she holds not a trace of doubt.

"I'm just extremely well prepared," is all she offers when she finally answers you, though, and you're left wondering at what exactly has changed. How it is that she's gone from asking your advice on beating Rachel, to prophesising her role as the inevitable champion.

You ask the obvious. You loop her back to the weekend again;

"What were you actually doing back at Yale, Quinn? Did it, like, I don't know… Does your big project have something to do with Rachel?"

And she flinches. And you catch it;

Like the slightest twitch behind her eyes, or a hurried hardening, or a realisation that maybe she's let a little too much of her truth shine through. You think maybe. Perhaps. Because she sits back in her chair, she runs her eyes over you in that measuring way again, and then she smiles; the different kind, the one that you're now used to seeing.

"Why on earth would my project have anything to do with Rachel Berry? Do you realise how ridiculous that sounds Brittany?"

You shrug. You lean forward.

"You just seem really confident; which is cool, I'm pretty confident too. But, you're more confident. Super so." Your observation tilts her head, and she lifts her brow. "It just feels like maybe something happened this weekend."

She stares at you for a slow count to somewhere unknown, and then she places her words before you, not hard, yet not quite soft; "This weekend had nothing to do with Rachel; nothing at all. If I seem particularly confident, well…"

She smiles again. She mimics your shrug;

"…Let's just say I've got everything I need to succeed in place. This all comes down to the final debate, Brittany, and that's my arena to shine. Of course I'm going to beat Berry there; it'll be like… The perfect revenge, or justice, maybe. Possibly the poetic kind."

And you ask justice?

And she drops the smile from her face. She looks down, she looks up, and,

"Something like that," she says.

Like, something.

Because you don't yet understand any of the intricacies when it comes to Rachel and Quinn, or what it is that burns in the furnace and fires the obsession that Quinn simplified down to mean nothing but an irritation. From all you've heard so far, it really is all about Finn. Or the taking of Finn. Yet, you've learnt by now that what you hear doesn't often tell the full story. Not in this world at least, not when so much is hidden and so many words are left unspoken. So you watch her. You watch her face make its way back towards stoic; you watch her shoulders straighten out into the tightest line, and then you watch her stand from her chair.

"I really do need to get going," she tells you, and you nod fine, because aside from going over the week's schedule, you don't have any other concerns that you need to raise right now, and the ones which you do wish to raise are more of the words left unspoken.

Like, what's your intentions with Santana?

Or, is there going to possibly come a point where I might need to kill you?

Because pacifism is awesome, and an end to violence would be great, but.

You'd be a fool to think that Quinn doesn't have a plan here, and you think perhaps, it could be a plan bigger than anything you've even managed to consider her planning, and, you think definitely, again, that if she seeks to include Santana's downfall in any of her plans, then…

Well, you doubt you'd really kill her, but you're sure it wouldn't be pretty.

For now you just keep smiling. You place your doubts atop your ever fluctuating pile of doubts, and you ask Quinn what she's got planned for the rest of her day. It's a question that only serves to heap your doubt pile that little bit higher though, because she looks at you as lingeringly as she's ever looked at you, and she smiles perhaps her most eagerly engaging smile, and she tells you,

"I'm having dinner with Santana; we've still got so much catching up to do."

The words lodged in your head and stuck in your throat, and though you kept your face immobile and didn't outwardly react, you felt it like a blow to your stomach. But higher; like, somehow her words cracked your chest and hurt your heart, and;

Jealous?

Sure. You think you can frame the words that way and pretend your blue eyes have been clouded by the sheen of the green eyed monster, but it's deeper than that. It's more than that. Because jealousy seems something so trite to you, yet you love Santana, and love to you is something completely untouched by triteness.

It's something which forces a discombobulation, or a disconnect, or a moment when all of your thoughts and your feelings separate.

Because you love Santana.

You told her that you love her.

Yet.

It's all of those unspoken words which seek now to hound you.

And you tell yourself it's the unknowns of Quinn, and you assure yourself that it's the unknowns of Rachel, because if you stop to truly consider, if you join together your heart and your head and you slide aside the differences of separate, then perhaps her what if I can't is the only question you really need an answer to.

And that bugs you.

Or it burdens you in a way you're not at all used to. It's like, you told her it didn't matter to you, and you spoke words which treasured her need to tread careful, yet, maybe…

In the light of this day which drags up confusion, the illusion of being okay with careful is a little bit harder to hold onto. And that's what hurts your heart and that's what pains your head, because beyond all of the awesome of speaking your love out loud, there's this space been made for uncertainty which breeds a deep need for more. Like the primal instinct you felt beneath her when she affirmed you with touches, you crave her to catch you now with words no longer said silent.

You want to hear love on her lips.

You feel like you need it.

And you think,

What if I can't?

Because, what if she really can't?

And you wonder; you plunder your depths as you consider the idea that everything you know she feels for you will always be trapped behind her fear of not deserving. And again, your heart hurts and you have a headache, and you can't keep your attention away from your phone.

You pick it up, you drop it down. You turn to your computer and you open a file.

You pick up your phone, again, because she still hasn't found you.

And that confounds you. It etches your face into one of more uncertainty as you drag yourself slowly through the rest of your day. Through minutes which pass like hours and through hours which pass unmarked by anything other than silence.

And sure.

Or not sure, yet you think perhaps you can trace some reason behind her silence. Like, it doesn't have to be bad, it could just be quiet. You trust enough to consider that reuniting with Quinn may have been something which has shaken her just as much, if not more than you, because for Santana there's all of that history and stark reminders of places she hates.

Or the her she hates who doesn't deserve you.

And you can imagine that wall of silence. You can imagine the way her frown will have twisted all of the words inside herself and kept them well away from you. And you're so eaten up and consumed by all of the imaginings, that when your phone finally rings and flashes bright with her number, you drop it back down to the desk again. The vibration shakes you and it takes you a moment to return to your present and answer her call.

You say hey.

And already, she pauses.

She doesn't hit you with a quick hi of reply, she doesn't pour forth words like a soothing balm, she stutters her way over hello; she almost flirts with something formal when she asks you how your day has been.

And you pause.

Because your day has been the crappiest and you wish to pull apart her silence.

You wish for something deeper.

Yet;

"It's been okay," you say. "I had that lunchtime meet with… everyone, so."

You find your own silence.

You listen to her beats of breath while you wait for her to speak to you, and when she doesn't do it in her own time, you dig in; you look for more than wishes and wants and you ask her, quite clearly;

"What's going on here, Santana?"

"…I…" she says, and then, "…nothing."

"You can't say nothing… You can't leave me wondering all day, and then just give me nothing."

"Britt…"

"No. Do you even know…"

You want to ask if she knows how hard your thoughts have been chasing each other all day, or if she knows about that fear you don't wish to taste that sits and drips doubt over all that you dream of. You slip on a sigh though; your words lose their footing, or you don't wish to do this over the length of a phone line. And so you say;

"I heard you're having dinner with Quinn."

Because that's factual. They're words which you can focus on and hope to find answer for, yet;

"She wants to," is all she offers in reply. And it's not enough.

"She wants to? What about you Santana; do you want to?"

"It's complicated."

"Isn't it always?"

Because, isn't it?

Always.

She doesn't sigh in reply, or find words fresh or fast, she sinks you back into that place where your questions sound louder, and you feel the frustration of non-revelation. You feel the scowl of your frown pulling your forehead tighter; you feel the bite as you dig your teeth into your lip.

And, you're going to say something.

You need to say something. Only;

"I need to see you," she says.

And.

Her needs; your needs.

Like that tightrope is back beneath your feet and you're struggling to keep your balance. And you feel the frustration in that, of course you do, yet… Still.

"What time will you be done?" you ask her.

"I'm meeting Quinn again at seven. I can probably be with you for ten… Is that okay?"

"Sure."

And silence.

Again.

And then she breaks it. Or she shatters you back somewhere soft with words like I miss you, because;

"I miss you, Brittany…"

She says, so heartfelt and true, like an ache you're only just identifying, because just yesterday it would have been enough, yet now.

You feel your eyes fill, or your eyes fill with feelings and you just ache.

And you say, almost silent, "I miss you too, Santana,"

Because, so much.

You miss the sound you've never heard from her.

And you need her to love you too.

It's a need that ferments throughout the unraveling of your day. Not that you fall apart, it's not like you don't find some kind of smile to flash Sam's way each time he looks to study you, and it's not as if you don't keep something chipper and dandy wrapped around your words when you spend time in the evening talking to your mom. You do feel somewhat unraveled though.

Like, if there's one thing you're sure of, then that's yourself, yet this feeling is something foreign to you, and this fear is something new for you, because you've never been in love before either, and you think, or you feel, like it should be so easy, because loving people is something that comes so easily to you. Loving Santana comes the easiest.

And that's not it…

…It's that uncovered need to be loved back, like a craving that touches you that place deeper than primal. Just…

You didn't know it would be this scary. You didn't realise you possessed a need deeper than the one to give.

And it feels like a fray on a thread that your mind can't stop pulling at.

Like you start to walk backwards, and you start to look at all of her words and all of the spaces she places between them, and you measure distances that creep outwards instead of touching you inwards, and it's like a terror ride where your knuckles clench tight and your stomach can't stop spinning through the loops and the bends that seem never ending.

And you feel.

Like a scream of frustration.

As equal as the fear, because you don't like this feeling. You don't like the way it's twisting you inside, and upending your sureties. You just want.

So much so, that when ten trips a little closer to half past the hour and she knocks on your door, you're almost afraid to answer it. You're almost scared of the way you want to put your demands on her; like you want to prove the point that she loves you, and you want to prove the point that all of the Quinn's in the world mean nothing next to her unuttered declarations to you.

And you move slowly, and with a different kind of caution.

And when she sees you, you think she knows.

Something, maybe. Because she smiles, and then she doesn't.

And you forget to smile at all.

You say hey, you stand aside from the door and you let her inside, but your lips don't find their easy lift; your eyes aren't quite as soft when you take her in. You do still take her in though. Your eyes dip low to follow the shape of her skirt and its length against legs that look so enticing… And from skirt to shirt, you crawl your gaze, and you wonder when you meet her own if she dressed for you, or if she dressed for dinner.

You don't ask. She doesn't answer.

She watches you.

She travels her eyes about your face, she drops them down to your hands held twisted tight together, and she steps forward on a sigh. She says Brittany;

She doesn't ask you what's wrong though, and you have to wonder again if she knows; if she can see beneath your surface and name the source for all of your fear.

She just draws nearer.

And all of your words are tied together inside.

Like, vice tight and bursting, silent yet loud. Because you want, yet you don't want to scare her, and you need her in way that doesn't tread careful.

You ache with it.

And in the moment she touches you, you break with it.

Because you know her, and when she reaches to soothe you with lips gently kissing, when her hands immediately go to the places she knows will pull you towards her, you're sure of what she's doing; you know she wants to assure you inside of her touch. And it isn't enough, no matter how much you wish it to be or want it to be, right now, it isn't enough.

And that frustration marks out the way you return her touches.

It bites your teeth against her lips.

Hard; and she flinches.

You feel her wince when your hands drive into her hair and you clench her closer to the kiss you're insisting upon her. And you don't pause to give her room to ask you, you don't make time to take a breath and sigh away this sentiment;

You insist. Again.

Your need as great as hers.

Or greater.

Because your words have sated her silent yearning; yet you,

You burn. Or it burns; like a madness you're this time making in yourself, and a madness you mark her with. Like desperation, but so much deeper. Because it cuts you open, and it pours you out,

Every doubt.

Every single way that today has found you wanting, you push back onto her.

You push into her.

Your body harsh as you slam her up against the wall behind. And you're not content to find her with kisses, it's not enough to hear her whimper beneath this force of feeling when the force within you is demanding that you seek and that you take, and that you make her tell you with more than whimpers,

Or whispers,

Or nothing;

She says nothing to stop you.

When your fingers find their way between buttons to rip wide her shirt, when your teeth trail bites from her lips to her neck to her chest, she doesn't moan Brittany,

She groans compliant. Perhaps. Still willing to let touches do the work of her words. And for each one unheard, you go after her harder. Your fingers almost furious in their pursuit, your hands harsh in the silence when you lift her leg about you and you push her skirt from thigh to waist and you touch that place,

Not with grace, not with the reverence you're used to, but with the intent to grab something more lasting than pleasure; and she's ready for you. Like this moment has soaked her with the same sense of need to uncover whatever deeper place it is you wish to touch her. Your fingers instantly slick to sliding; or to slide in. Or thrust in;

She cries,

And you tear your touch out; and in, and harder.

She arches.

And this is no longer dancing, this isn't some dainty twirl around a fanciful feeling; this is what you feel for her stripped down and raw and begging, just…

Begging,

You think you are. From the top of your own tower maybe. And now you need her words.

You need,

And it's greedy in this instant. It's three fingers and it's knuckle deep, and it's not so much you holding her in the palm of your hand, as you fucking her outside of her senses and senseless - she soaks the palm of your hand. And she shudders around a cry, and it's not enough.

Like a truth you force onto her lips with the kiss you now rip from her.

Because it isn't a dance,

And there's nothing even disguised as dainty in the way you pull her down to the floor with you; beneath you, or below. Because you can't slow down this feeling. Because for every touch you urge to burn her with, she rises to greet you. Like she's letting you carve her up into the shapes you need to see, and she wants so badly to be everything you need in her.

And maybe that's it.

Not a thing that halts you; you don't think you could hold back this moment if you tried.

Yet,

Maybe it's that which pauses your fingers from thrusting against her with such an enraged sense of oblivion; because she's letting you tear her apart.

And you don't want to hurt her.

This was never about hurting her.

What you want is the different sound of a different cry. You want the one you're used to where her eyes sparkle pretty and she looks at you like you're touching her somewhere divine; in that place where you know so much more than you doubt.

And Santana,

You say. And her eyes are sparkling. And she looks at you lost, maybe.

Like the edge of the oblivion you've led her to is still somewhere oh so scary, and these feelings you're finding in her are still touched by the taste of unsafe, and,

You've taken so much since the moment she arrived that you've broken her, maybe. Or she's broken beneath you, more than once, and she's given her all and you've taken her all, and maybe that look in her eye now is something scared because she knows what she hasn't given you, and maybe she feels like not enough, or not of worth, or somewhere still so undeserving.

And you refuse to leave her with that feeling.

You refuse to leave her.

You just,

You touch her softer. You touch her softness.

You let your fingers still inside her, and for the moment you just feel her. You fill her with something gentler, and you guide her again back inside of a rhythm that doesn't need to tear her apart to love her. And she moves with you. And it feels beyond reverence now, the way that you touch her, like it's not her world you're holding in your hands, but the whole scope of the universe, because you're buried so deep in her, and she's so wide open to you; and like a kiss, you want to seal it. You want to anoint it to her lips with all of your worth. Yet her eyes are fixed on you, and they still sparkle in ways you long to decipher, and

Santana, you say, urging her on to let it all go. Like begging of a different kind, wrapped up inside your whisper. And again, you say her name, and again,

You just want to love her.

And she looks, and you look deeper,

And you say,

I love you

And she clings to you. And she pulls you into her, and she coats your hand again with that need deeper than somewhere she can yet put her words to, and she pants, and she moans, and you tell her over and over,

Until she cries;

A different cry. And she breaks into pieces beneath you.

When you take yourself from her, you don't let go.

You think perhaps you hold on tighter, and you tell her it's okay, and you tell her sorry, and for each shudder she gives, you feel yourself falling apart. Because you didn't mean this. And, you did the same to her as you were insisting to yourself you didn't want. Like, you were begging for more than touches, yet, you hid away your words.

It's what you think about as you hold her close, and it's what's you chastise yourself for when you lift her up and lead her to the shower. Both of you hushed with silence. Both of you kind of sombre from the storm that's raged rampant around you. She stills lets you take care of her; she doesn't pull herself away when you reach towards her with soap coated hands, and when you wrap her up warm and tight in the fluffiest towel you can find, she lets you pull her close to you and she leans forwards towards your touch.

And you thank god you haven't lost her.

Because, you realise, like the swift blow of an epiphany;

That's the source of your every fear. That was the thing you've been pushing back against all day.

With Quinn. And the silence. And, just…

The thought of losing her stops you dead.

It tumbles stories high inside you and it shakes the foundation of every single thing which holds you upright and sure. Because really, what if I can't is exactly the same as what if I lose her.

It aches the same. It scares you worse than any fear you've ever before quantified.

And you hold her close.

You let the silence hold you both for a long, long time before you dare to be the one to break anything else this evening. Because you think you've walked too far now to tread carefully. You can't keep existing in this space where things are left just a little bit unsaid. Not anymore. Not when your door is starting to be darkened by the shadows of a future that's fixing closer to the now. You have less than four weeks until the finale of the Rock the Vote series of shows, just a little more time until the election.

And then.

And now. You want to solidify yourself and Santana. You want to be sure that you're in this together and on the same page and facing the same enemies and fighting the same fight. And you need words to do that. You need real conversations and real ideas and just,

You need your reality to be the same as hers, because it's in every distance you've found in between that your doubts have deigned to reside. And you sigh that thought out loud. You shift just a little in the way you're holding onto her, and you say you're going to make a drink. Like, tea, maybe? Or hot chocolate?

You offer both, and she smiles up at you. She lets you lead her out to the kitchen, and she perches herself up on her stool at the breakfast bar; her eyes following you closely as you boil the water and find a box of something herbal with the words calming printed onto the side. You show her the box and lift your brow and she nods.

And then, again, like a little wobble on the inside.

Because you don't feel very calmed. You still feel the uncertainty beneath your loss of control, and you still feel hardwired towards worry and you still feel,

"Brittany?"

She calls you.

And it's soft, of course, she is so soft for you, but also, you think, you hear her own fears hiding behind her tone, and you lift your eyes to greet her. You survey her from the seat you've taken opposite, and you let your gaze linger longingly on every contour of her face; on her lips.

On the way they move when she makes her words.

Like, "I'm sorry about today," she offers up to you, and you drop your eyes down to the countertop. "I didn't call sooner, because…"

And at the trail away, you ask,

"Because?"

"I didn't know what to say."

You look and she's looking back. You lift your brow again.

"So you thought it was better to say nothing? Do you know how worried I was… do you know…"

"Why?"

And you stare it at her. Through the silence. You feel the source of the fear eating your insides out, and you drop your eyes to focus instead on the way your hands are playing with your tea cup. You trail your fingers around the rim as you follow the circles being crafted in your mind. And you say;

"I got scared."

Like something you never wanted to admit. Something you've never felt before.

Something that makes her eyes flinch quick to a space above your shoulder. And,

"Santana?" you say, as soft for her as she is for you. "Look at me?"

And she looks; kind of like your fear makes her fears feel stronger.

It makes you want to reach across the counter and find her fingers with yours, yet, you want to try and make your words work first this time. So you breathe. You smile. You say;

"I only got scared because of how much I love you,"

And you watch her close her eyes.

"Because I do," you continue, making more spaces to say it. "And I've never felt like this before, like… Like everything inside of me is made just for you. And I think…"

You think. You struggle for your sentences.

"…That even though I'm really okay with careful, and… I don't want to make you feel like I'm pressuring you to give me something you're not ready to give, because I'd never want to do that Santana, I just…"

"I want to give you everything."

Her eyes are open and on you and she bites her lip before she speaks again;

"Don't you know how I feel? I thought you knew; I thought…"

"I do. I really do, I just… Today, with Quinn, and when you didn't call, I…"

"You thought I was with Quinn?"

"Weren't you?"

She dips her brow and her eyes darken just slightly as she considers your question;

"Sure, but… You thought I was with Quinn?"

And no.

But,

"No," you say, "I didn't…"

But.

She looks at you harder and you drop your eyes down again. You twist your insides, you stretch out all of your thoughts as if to banish them, yet still,

All day you've been tortured by that scene in the alleyway.

By Quinn, pressed tight and taunting.

Just like your fears.

Just like,

"…I was scared," you say, and you feel yourself flinch, and you hear the answering flint in her tone;

"You really think I'd do that to you?"

"No, I don't… I don't, Santana, I just…"

You look at her imploring, yet she's shifting her gaze every way but yours, and again you want to reach to soothe her with a gentle touch, with something felt. And again you stop yourself.

You force yourself to find more words;

"I trust you," you say, "I believe in you, so much, I do, but what if…"

"What?" she asks, direct now and pinning you down with her gaze.

And maybe she wants you to voice her fears too.

Maybe you need to.

So you say, in a whisper, almost scared to be heard;

"What if you can't?"

And she knows, because she doesn't ask for elaboration or for you to break it down and explain it any way other than the obvious one. And she looks. And she looks. And;

"I can," she says.

Hard.

And it's your turn to look. And listen, perhaps, because she sighs. Frustrated, like her inability to just say what she wants to say torments her as much as it does you. You watch her trying though; you note her tightened grip on her tea cup and the way her teeth seem to bite even harder at her lip.

And you wait.

And she says;

"Today, with Quinn, the only reason I didn't call straight away… I just, I didn't know what to tell you, and I had stuff to figure out…"

She pauses to watch your reaction, yet you sit still and steady.

"…It was weird, Britt, she was weird, and then, I knew she was with you, so I didn't want to call, and…"

"You could've text me, San."

"Text you what, though?"

You shrug. You think anything would have been nicer than nothing.

You say it out loud and she nods her head slowly along to your words.

"I didn't think," she says, "I just thought… I don't know. I didn't think. I'm sorry."

And you think.

Back to your earlier determinations where you guessed at the head-spin Quinn could've put Santana in, and where you wondered something similar to justify her silence. Like she had too much to think about and feel about and it chased all of her easy words away.

It doesn't make it easier to know though. It didn't help at all with the flurry of fears throughout the day that's led you to this moment.

And so you say, or you ask her;

"Please don't do that again, Santana," and you use your softest voice. Because you do understand, you do, you just need the something more, and when she looks across at you in query, you soften out some more words to explain what you mean; "Just… Call me next time, or text me… something. It doesn't matter what, just something… just so I know that you're still there."

And she looks again; like perhaps she's slowly figuring you out.

Maybe.

And her hand reaches across the countertop, and you stare at the distance between it and you, and still, inside, you feel like not yet. Because;

"I'm so scared of losing you, Santana," you admit. And you hide it inside of a whisper, and it feels like all of the air leaves your body. Like, weightless, for a moment, perhaps. Yet,

Brittany,

She calls you again. Back inside of this moment. And she reaches further across the breakfast bar, and whether you want it or not, her touch takes the cup from your hand and she holds onto your fingers. Kind of tightly.

Kind of,

Like,

Her eyes are looking into you, and then they look down, and up,

And you see her fighting her own insides, like, you see it. Her struggle.

And then.

Just.

Not so much of a struggle.

Because her other hand joins her first, and she holds you firmly in her grasp, and she says, I

And she stops. Her gaze grabs onto yours, and,

"San," you say, but she shakes her head to stop you.

"No Brittany… just, no, okay?"

"Okay?" you say, somewhat unsure,

Yet,

Or better yet,

"I love you."

She states it, sure and succinct, and she doesn't hide it inside a whisper.

It isn't a whisper. And it isn't weightless. It's like the ground beneath your feet.

Like a sure step. Maybe, yet you still think your mouth is stuck on open, and your eyes are stuck wide, and your breaths,

You have none.

And she says Brittany. And now it is a whisper, like a question. Like, "Say something…"

She implores you, and, "Okay," you offer again, struck somewhere dumb or stupid.

Because you didn't expect her words to appear right now. You didn't think for even a moment that she'd just step outside of all you know and make you know something more. Like, you already guessed that she's the bravest girl in the world, and now,

More. So much more. And you look at her, and she's looking back at you, and you look down at your hands and she's holding onto you, and you think, or you feel, like a smile you can't fight. Honestly. If there was a word for the way that every single part of each particle inside you seems to want to lift up and towards her, then, that's how you feel. Like every single universe is smiling inside you. Like, "You do?" you ask her, infinitely curious, and she looks almost as dumbstruck as you feel.

She nods though. She draws her eyebrows in together as if her thoughts are just now catching up to her words outspoken, and she nods once more. She says sure, as if this is a blasé moment. She flits her gaze down and then up again, and then down, and then, "You're not going to lose me, okay? I don't ever want you to think that… I wouldn't do that to you. I…"

She pauses for a second, yet, it's enough. She's enough.

Everything is enough.

And you say, "I love you." You say Santana. You speak her sentiments the same as yours, and when she tightens her hold about your hands, you feel your fears begin to lose the grip they were holding on your heart.

You lose a lot more than fear in the minutes that follow.

Like, she lifts herself up from her stool and she walks her way round the breakfast bar towards you, and she takes you. By the hand, again, as if she's inviting your return to a familiar dance. And you do dance with her, quite sublimely. Perhaps divinely. Because she whispers words in your ear when she takes refuge inside you, and those words take seed and they sink down to take root within each fiber of your being;

Because she loves you.

Quite completely.

Like the opposite way to how you pushed her for the words earlier, she just whispers them inside you, and she touches them inside you, and the two together are like nothing you've imagined ever knowing before. Like once again she's showing you things inside yourself that you didn't yet know you didn't know, but now that you do know, you're sure that you've always known them.

And your thoughts tumble about like certainties chasing after certainties and nothing that's left unsure. You let her lift you up and you let her push you over and when you fall fast and hard she's waiting there to catch you. With a smile. With soft kisses against your lips.

With her continued I love you.

And it feels perfect.

Again. Yet more so.

Even past the afterglow, even when you've pulled the sheets up around your shoulders and she's settled down inside your hold, and that oneword comes up again; it doesn't faze you.

She says Quinn and you no longer flinch. You just carry on running your fingers up and down the smooth skin of her arm laid out across you, and you listen easy to all of her words. You form thoughts around her thinking, and you let it all sink in.

Because she's starting to speak the same thoughts as you.

She says; "…it was really weird. I mean, we've fought loads before, and we do always make it up, but… she made it too easy, Britt. Like, she apologised to me. And that never happens…"

And she says, "…I don't know what her angle is, but I'm damn sure she's working one…"

And then she says; "Do you think she's cooking up some huge massive master plan?"

And you just let it all sink in.

You let a different set of circles turn, and you let different pieces shift about inside you and you think through theories and you slide across thoughts, and you shrug your arms around her.

"I'm sure she's plotting something."

"Right? And no way this can just be about me… Fuck knows if it's just about Rachel. I just… She's different, Britt, and I'm not sure it's even a worse kind of different, there's just…"

"Do you trust her?" you ask, like a question from nowhere, and it pauses her.

It pauses your fingers for a moment, and then she says no;

"I've seen Quinn switch it up in an instant, more than once, and sure, this situation seems a little different, but no way do I trust her. I can't even figure out what it is she wants anymore."

And your thoughts slip back to earlier.

You remember the ways that you wondered when you were at lunch, and again you wonder, like a question that holds all of the answers;

What is it that Quinn really wants?

And you ponder for a moment; just the slightest second before you divert your attention away from pointless puzzles, to focus again on your present. And you just listen to her making words, nestled deep in your arms. Because she's spinning her own theories now and she's getting more and more outlandish with her sleepy sounding ideas on whether Quinn might have spent the weekend hiring an assassin to take Rachel down at the big finale, or if maybe she's planning to explode the whole auditorium and take everyone down at once, or…

She drifts, and then she shifts a little deeper inside of your arms.

You can tell when she finally trips over the line into sleeping, because her breaths even out into a perfect rhythm, and you let yourself lay steady inside of the beat. You're not sleeping yet yourself;

You feel like, maybe, you just want to hold onto this moment for a sweet minute more.

Because it feels perfect, again, and it actually is.

And you communicate that notion to her mostly sleeping form. You turn yourself a little so as you can hold her tight inside the angle of your body, and you drop the softest of kisses down onto the skin of her shoulder, and you work your way up to her ear, and; I love you, you say. Once more for this day, just to confirm all of the fears reallyhave been swept away. And she stretches her body back into yours, and through the beginnings of her sleep she sighs out a sound which assures you the same.

And it's enough; because she loves you.

And to you, her love is everything.