"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate the union of Hailey Susan Pierce and Wesley James Brody."
Brittany could feel her eyes water as she watched her younger sister, looking resplendent in her white organza wedding dress, stand at the altar, with a look of pure happiness as she looked at her husband-to-be. It wasn't just that she was happy for Hailey, because of course she was, but at the same time, she felt this slight pinching in her heart as she thought how she may not have this for herself. But she immediately flushed that thought out of her mind, focusing on Hailey on her big day.
When they got to the part where they were exchanging vows, Brittany felt her breath catch as Wes took Hailey's hands and said, "Hailey Pierce, today I make this promise to you, that I will love and cherish you with all my heart, every single day until the day I die. I promise to never take you for granted, not your dreams or hopes or your opinions, as they are part of you and I love you and loving you means accepting every single thing about you. I promise to not hold your mistakes against you as I know you won't hold mine against me, because being bound to you in matrimony is a promise to always choose to be better, to learn from our mistakes and be the best version of ourselves for each other." He took a deep breath and his face was split into a disbelieving grin. "Did I tell you that I love you?"
Hailey laughed. "Yes, but you can tell me again."
"I love you."
"Hailey?" the preacher prompted.
"Wes Brody, today I make my vows to you, to love you and respect you 'til the end of my days. I promise to never forget to appreciate your existence, and to always be thankful that you have come into my life. I love you with every fiber of my being, and just as you promise to hold dear everything about me, I promise to cherish everything that you are and everything that you choose to be. I will stand by your side and I am eagerly anticipating the life that we will share together, a life that each day we will make better than the last." Hailey blinked back her tears. "I love you, goddammit."
Wes laughed and he took her by the waist and lifted her up. He held her close for a moment before gently settling her down again. The preacher, regaining his composure from the outburst, coughed as he asked for the rings.
The rest of the ceremony went by smoothly.
When they had finally settled down for the reception, Hailey hopped over to Brittany's side and settled on the seat beside her. Brittany smiled and said, "Congratulations, Hay."
"Thanks, Britt," Hailey said, blushing. She looked around her eagerly. "So where's your friend?"
"No, Santana! Your not-girlfriend friend," she grinned. "Thought you could surprise us, didja?"
Brittany shook her head. "I don't know what you mean, Hailey. But… Santana and I, we're not—" she shrugged her shoulders.
Hailey studied her expression for a moment. "Oh." Then she asked softly, "Are you okay, Britt?"
Brittany laughed and shook her head again. She gave Hailey her brightest smile. "I'm fine, Hay. Don't worry about me. This is your big day. You should be celebrating and see if you can test the limits of the allowed PDA in an occasion as fancy as this."
Hailey gave her a look. "I know, Britt. But even if it's my wedding day, it doesn't mean I could forget how to be a sister."
Brittany stared at her for a moment before wrapping her up in a bear hug, who returned it just as warmly. "Oh Hailey, I don't know what to do." She gave her a quick run-down of what had happened, from when she found out about Mike through Kurt to the calling card that Santana gave to her earlier today.
"Have you talked with her?" Hailey asked when Brittany finished.
"How'd you know I have to talk with her?" Brittany mumbled.
"Because ninety-eight percent of relationship-related problems are about communication, or could be resolved through proper communication." She pulled back and smirked at Brittany's befuddled expression. "What? I had to do my research, you know." Then her expression softened. "I know I don't have the full details yet, Britt, but have you tried talking with her?"
Brittany hesitated before shaking her head.
Hailey just gave her a smile and she knew what she had to do.
When Brittany came back to the apartment from the reception, she immediately went to 6A and knocked on the door. It was only after a few minutes that she realized that it was a Friday and that Santana performed at the club on Fridays.
She thought of changing out of her dress but she thought that she had already wasted too much time. She ran down the stairs and hailed a cab to take her downtown.
But she had forgotten how bad the Friday evening traffic could get and she was stuck in the middle of it for half-an-hour when she thought 'fuck it', paid her fare, jumped out of the cab and ran through the streets in her dress and heels.
She had to pause and ask around for directions from strangers a couple of times, all of whom were initially surprised but also helpful when they saw the state she was in.
When she finally reached the establishment with the sign that said Troubletones, she couldn't thank the heavens more.
The moment she entered the club, she stopped as she heard a voice, that warm, raspy voice that never failed to awaken something in her chest, floated in the air.
"…you're the only one that I want…"
Brittany stepped closer until she could see Santana wearing her black leather pants and her dark leather jacket over her white tank top. She was looking intently at the space in front of her, seeing but not seeing, as she let herself be lost in the song.
Then as she came to the refrain, she squeezed her eyes shut as she sang with such earnestness.
"I dare you to let me be your one and only / I promise I'm worthy to hold in your arms…"
Brittany stood transfixed at the intensity of the emotions she was pouring into the song: that combination of pain, pleading, and heartbrokenness.
"So you're the girl, huh?"
Brittany turned and saw a dark-haired woman looking at her. At her confused look, the woman just chuckled. She looked back to the stage and Brittany followed her gaze. "Girl has been singing these broken-hearted tunes all week. Don't get me wrong, she's got the pipes and, apparently the emotional pain too, for 'em but one can only take so much of such depressing songs, even if they are by my goddesses Ella, Nina, Whitney and Adele." She gave an exasperated sigh. "We've been running low on booze and tissue." She turned back to Brittany. "Seems like you're the girl who has tamed that wildfire."
Brittany felt her heart start pounding.
"I'm Mercedes Jones, proprietress of this club," holding out her hand.
Brittany took her hand and shook it. "Brittany. Brittany Pierce."
Mercedes gave her a quick smile. She flickered her eyes back to stage where Santana still sang, oblivious to Brittany's presence, or to anything else around her. Brittany felt her heart twist at such a beautiful and heartrending performance.
"Look," Mercedes finally said. "I don't make it a habit to meddle in Satan's business, and Lord knows she doesn't have a long list of virtues to her name, but I just want to say that that girl has a good heart. She is a fool many times over but she means well."
"I know," Brittany said softly. "I know."
Mercedes gave her a long, hard look. Then her features softened. "Okay then."
They turned their attention back to the stage where Santana was finishing up the song. She had now opened her eyes and as she was winding down to the last few lines, they landed on Brittany. Her eyes widened before she blinked them rapidly, as if not believing she was there. Still, the last line came out softer and more broken.
"Come on and give me a chance / to prove that I'm the one who can / walk that mile until the end starts…"
The place erupted into applause and a few whistles. Santana turned her attention back to her audience and gave a polite bow before exiting.
For a split-second, Brittany was afraid that Santana would leave without talking to her. But as soon as Santana got off the stage, she looked in Brittany and Mercedes' direction and paused. She shifted awkwardly for a moment before walking towards them with slow, hesitant steps.
"Wheezy," she greeted when she reached them. Mercedes just rolled her eyes. She turned to Brittany and said in a small voice. "Hi."
"Figures you'd show up with Adele," Santana joked, though there was a nervous edge to her voice.
Brittany smiled a little at that. "So much for living out the fantasy, huh?"
"Well, that woman really does know her stuff." Santana seemed to want to say something more but she stopped herself.
"Aren't you glad I talked you out of Another Suitcase in Another Hall?" Mercedes said, breaking the tension. She gave Santana a knowing smirk.
Santana laughed, shaking her head. "Yeah, yeah, Wheezy. I owe you big time."
"Well, I'd hate to be the third wheel to this awkward conversation so I'm gonna scoot my ass over to the bar. You girls just holler if you need anything."
Brittany smiled wider this time. "Thank you, Mercedes. It was nice meeting you."
"Same here." Mercedes gave her a huge smile back before turning towards Santana and pulling her by the arm until she could whisper something to her ear. Santana's expression grew somber and she nodded. Brittany didn't catch what she said, only the last part, "…do right or I'm gonna slap you upside your thick skull."
When Mercedes left, Brittany and Santana just stood awkwardly, trying and failing to meet each other's eyes.
Finally, Santana mustered her courage and said, "I'm sorry. I'm really, really sorry. I should've told you, I shouldn't have lied to you. I'm sorry."
Brittany reached out to touch her hand. "Why did you?"
Santana flicked her eyes to Brittany's face before lowering them again. "I was scared," she said simply. "This guy, Mike Chang, seems to be perfect for you, and I… I didn't know if I could compete with that." She paused. "I know what I did was wrong, and I never intended to lie to you. I was going to tell you that night at the couch but I panicked and told you about Ryder instead." She swallowed. "I just wanted to buy myself time, for you to get to know me and maybe come to like me."
She shook her head. "I know. I'm sorry. It was stupid and selfish and I really shouldn't have done that."
"Santana." Brittany laced her fingers with hers. "Look at me." Santana met her eyes timidly. "I'm mad at you for lying to me and keeping stuff from me, and I really wish you didn't do those things." Santana's face fell and she tried to tug her hand away but Brittany kept a firm hold on them. "No, listen to me please. I'm mad but I'd be a fool to keep on holding those things against you. Not when you've done so much for me, not when being with you makes me happy, not when…" she paused to take a deep breath, "you're the only one who makes me feel that anything is possible."
Santana's eyes widened. "B-But what about Mike?"
Brittany shrugged. "I went out with him and I just, I didn't feel anything." She smiled. "I choose you, Santana."
Brittany laughed before leaning over to Santana until their lips were only a hair's breadth away. "Yeah. I choose you, just as you've chosen me." The gasp that Santana let out was lost as Brittany closed the distance between them.
"So, just out of curiosity, why didn't you tell me earlier?"
"Tell you what?"
"That you were falling for me," Brittany said, waggling her brows.
Santana blushed and she nudged her where they were sitting on the couch. She tried to hide from Brittany's questioning gaze but eventually gave up. She snuggled closer to her before giving a little sigh. "I don't know… I guess I was just afraid that I'd lose you. We've gotten so close so fast and you were like my best friend, Britt. I was comfortable with you and I could tell you stuff and I don't have anyone like that in my life, not even 'Cedes. I tell her things but only certain things. With you, it felt like I could tell you anything."
Brittany hummed as she kissed the top of Santana's head. "Funny thing, I felt that exact same way about you."
Santana raised her head, smiling. Brittany leaned over to kiss her. When they pulled apart, she said, "Too bad 'Cedes kicked us out of the club for canoodling; I would've loved to sing you a couple more songs."
"Well, you can sing to me here."
Santana shook her head. "Not the same." At Brittany's questioning look, she continued, "Well, for one, there's no band, and two, nobody else is gonna see how I'm singing to the most beautiful woman in the world."
Brittany clicked her tongue, even as she blushed. "No need to smooth-talk me, lady-lover."
Santana winked. "You know you want it."
Brittany groaned. "How can you be so cute and adorable one second and seductive and smirky the next?"
"Like you're one to talk," she shot back. "You want me to stop?"
Brittany raised a brow. "Who said anything about wanting to stop?"
Santana laughed as she leaned in to kiss Brittany. "Touché," she mumbled against her lips. Brittany livened up to the kiss and began working her mouth against Santana's, teasing and licking.
"I think you should just come and live with me," Brittany said as she dried her hair with a towel. Here entire body was still buzzing with the shared shower session they just had. "Saves the rent; besides you haven't fully unpacked your things yet."
Santana, who was sprawled on the bed, exhausted, cracked an eye open. She tried to smirk but all she managed was a goofy grin. Brittany felt her face heat up with a mixture of pride and affection. "But we haven't gone out on a date yet."
Brittany just quirked her eyebrow at that. "You still saying that?"
"I'm an old-fashioned gal," said Santana, shrugging.
"Well, in that case, I think I should tell you that I consider shared shower sessions as bath dates, watching movies on Saturday nights, or any other nights for that matter, as movie dates, and you making me dinner as a home date." Brittany laid aside her towel before crawling over beside Santana, who immediately curled up into her.
"Is that right?" Santana hummed.
"Yup; my logic's impenetrable."
"What's the connection between logic and hen-pecking?"
Santana laughed. "None that I know of." She wrapped her arm around Brittany, pulling her closer. "I really want to take you out on a fancy dinner, though."
"To show me off?"
"That depends; will there be shrimp cocktail?"
"As many as you like."
Brittany pretended to think it over for a moment. "Well then, okay."
Santana grinned. "Score."
Santana jumped from her seat. "Uh, yes, Britt?"
Brittany laughed. "Will you relax? You've been fidgeting for the past ten minutes."
"I was?" Santana asked. She grabbed her glass of water but her hand was shaking so much, she sloshed the contents a bit, spilling some on the tablecloth. "Oh crap!" She grabbed the napkin and started dabbing on the wet spots.
Brittany reached out to still Santana's hand. "Santana."
Santana stopped. She looked at Brittany sheepishly. "I'm sorry."
"Don't be. What's wrong? Why are you so nervous?"
Santana eyes darted to Brittany then to the table then to the glass then back to Brittany. "I—It's just that I haven't done this in a while."
Santana, missing the joke, withdrew her hand from Brittany's. She started worrying the napkin with her hands. "Go out on a fancy date," she mumbled.
"You're the one who insisted on this," Brittany reminded her.
"I know," Santana groaned. "I wanted to give you a great fancy date but I've forgotten how these things go."
Brittany narrowed her eyes. "When was your last date?"
"Uh…" Santana frowned as she thought this over. "Over a decade ago?"
"Yeah. I'm such a spaz."
Brittany pressed her lips together to keep from smiling. "No, you're not." She took Santana's hand again. "Just relax, I'll walk you through this," she winked.
Santana blushed but eventually relaxed. "Okay."
"We just eat and talk about stuff, like we've been doing the past few weeks."
Santana looked at her with unsure eyes. "There's no fancy dinner talk?"
Brittany laughed. "No. Dates are for us to get to know each other, with the added bonus of letting other people gawk at how perfect we are for each other."
"Okay." She looked at the table for a moment, frowning, before she looked at Brittany again. She gave a small nervous smile. "So, have you talked to Shelby yet?"
Brittany smiled back and squeezed her hand encouragingly. "Yes, I have. I've already sent her my portfolio and she's going to notify me within the week when we can set up the exhibit."
Santana's eyes widened and she beamed. "That's terrific news, Britt!"
Brittany blushed. "I know. It's all thanks to you."
"Baloney!" Santana snorted, her nerves vanishing. "It's your talent and skill that got you this. It's all you, Britt."
Brittany stared at her for a while., then she squeezed Santana's hand again. "It's all us."
Santana's eyes sparkled and she ducked her head shyly. "Us," she repeated.
"You and I. Us."
Santana gave a small tinkling laugh. "I like that word."
"Good, 'cause it's gonna be us now from this moment on."
Santana looked up through her lashes. "Yeah?"
"So, how about you? What do you do on the days when you don't go to the club?"
"I help out my brother if he has some tough cases that require digging up info." Then she added a bit self-consciously. "I also help teach the kids at the local dance studio."
Brittany's eyes lit up. "You dance? Why didn't you tell me that before?"
Santana shrugged her shoulders, still bashful. "Yeah well, I saw some videos of you dancing before and I'm not exactly as good at it as you are."
"Baloney!" Brittany scrunched up her nose. "There's no comparison, Santana." She offered her a smile. "We shouldn't ever compare ourselves to each other; I heard it kills relationships."
"Yeah. Hailey's been giving me unsolicited relationship advice, 'cause apparently, when you're married, you automatically become a relationship guru," said Brittany, rolling her eyes.
Santana laughed. "Well, she's happy so there must be truth in what she says."
Brittany shrugged before giving a grudging smile. "Yeah, I think so, too." She leaned in a little. "So now that I know that you also dance, what do you say we hit a dance club after?" When she saw hesitation in Santana's features, she added in a low voice, "You know, dancing works me up and gets me all hot…" she slowly raked her eyes over Santana's face, her neck and her chest, "and bothered."
Santana swallowed. "No fair."
Brittany smirked. "Is that a yes?"
Santana flushed crimson. "Like I could ever say no to you."
"Don't worry; I won't abuse my power… too often." Santana let out a groan, which made Brittany laugh. "You know, seeing you like this, I wouldn't have thought you were a lady-killer."
"You took my game away," Santana groused.
Brittany thought of teasing her a bit more but Santana looked so put out that she changed her mind. She said softly, "Baby, you don't need game; you already got me."
"I do?" Santana asked in a small voice, her eyes shining.
Brittany felt her heart clench. "You do. I'm yours."
"You're mine." A slow smile spread on Santana's face. "And I'm yours, too."
"Just the way it should be."
While on their way back from their grocery-shopping, Brittany and Santana passed by the Center, where upon insistent public demand, Madame Tibideaux extended her stay for another two weeks.
Santana was talking about the new set list she was preparing for her performance next week when Brittany caught sight of a woman wearing a purple turban exiting the Center, surrounded by a gaggle of people. Brittany immediately stopped in her tracks and grabbed hold of Santana's arm.
"Britt?" Santana asked, confused.
"I want you to meet somebody."
"There's somebody else whose blessing I've yet to receive?"
Brittany just smiled and tugged her towards the crowd. Madame Tibideaux, who was about to enter a black limousine waiting by the curb, saw them. She paused and waited for them to come to her. Brittany and Santana made their way to her (with Santana's mean glare cutting through the crowd thus facilitating their passage). Madame Tibideaux nodded to her bodyguards to let them through.
"Hey, Madame T," greeted Brittany with a big grin on her face.
"The woman with the cat," Madame Tibideaux said, looking at her through her glasses. She directed her attention to Santana. "And this is…?"
"My soulmate, Santana Lopez," proclaimed Brittany proudly.
"Britt?" Santana asked in a whisper.
Brittany turned to Santana. "This was the woman who led me to you."
"Oh." Santana looked at Madame Tibideaux for a moment before smiling. "Well then, thank you for leading her to me."
Madame Tibideaux looked at the pair of them carefully. It was only for a split-second but Brittany thought she saw the woman smile. "You're welcome." She flickered her gaze back to Brittany. "And your cat?"
"Mr. Puss turned up in our window the other night," Brittany rocked herself with the balls of her feet. Her eyes were bright with happiness and excitement. "Seems like that since Hunter's in prison, he's finally free to come back to Lord Tubbington."
"Thank you so much for everything."
Madame Tibideaux just shook her head. "Not everything. I wish you two and your cats the best," she said before entering the limo.
"Wow, is she like a movie star or something?" Santana asked once the limo left. "She kind of reminds me of Sister Mary Clarence from Sister Act."
Brittany laughed. "I thought so, too. Come on, you still have to cook dinner for me."
Santana let herself be led away from the Center. But after a few minutes, she asked, "Britt? Who was that really?"
Brittany just turned to her, the big smile still on her face. "Just somebody who believed in us before we did."
A/N: Thanks to everyone who gave this fic a shot, especially those who faved/followed, and more so, those who left a review. And of course, thanks to my beta, MisAtentionSpan, for looking over this fic and making it presentable for public viewing. :)