Honestly, Santana wasn't sure where the summer went, because before she knew it, it was mid August, and the alarm clock she'd been ignoring for two months was waking her up bright and early. It was a massive shift from her usual routine of getting up around eight, meeting up with Rachel after the girl finished breakfast, and basically spending as much of the day with her as possible.

Call her a sap, but the past year had given her a kick in the ass over how quickly distance could form between close friends, and she just didn't want that with Rachel. They were still new, relationship-wise, and there was still so much she didn't know about her girlfriend, so much she looked forward to doing with her. So maybe she kept Rachel close, but that was never much of a problem, since Rachel was constantly inviting her to sit in on her lessons, or go for walks with her, or to come over for a movie night or for dinner.

Dinners had become a regular thing at the Berry household. At first, she'd been more than a little intimidated about meeting the Berry men, out of worry for interrogations, and especially of getting the third degree. It had been a worry of hers for as long as she'd felt something for Rachel, due to her history and how talkative the diva was. She was sure her fathers knew all about their troubled past, and wasn't sure if she would have been able to take it and beg for forgiveness, or if she would have simply shut down entirely from the knowledge that she'd hurt her girlfriend alongside the accusations, stress, and vulnerability of the situation.

However, instead of deeply terrifying interrogations, she got big, friendly hugs. And instead of being faced with her bitchy past toward Rachel, they seemed to take the diva's lead on whether she'd been forgiven or not. Santana hadn't been sure how to really digest all of that, though the traditional 'If you hurt my daughter' spiel later on when she was alone had been enough to let her know there wasn't any storm brewing in the sidelines. They simply trusted their daughter as much as they cared for her, and it warmed Santana's heart to know her girlfriend had people like them on her side.

So pretty much half of her time, once Rachel had returned, had been spent with the diva. Rachel's schedule was still kinda busy despite it being summer break, so the rest of the time was spent alone, or with B and Q. She worked to strike a nice balance, since Britt liked spending alone time with Artie and had her own dance classes, something B took really seriously for good reason. Meanwhile, Quinn loved her reading, and with the help of another Cheerio's dad who was apparently some big published author, also seemed to be working on some sort of writing project, which was pretty cool. And whenever the four found themselves with free nights, which was a pretty regular thing, they'd usually spend them together, watching TV marathons or just hanging out.

All in all, it had been a fantastic summer, one she was sad to see end, but there was a lot to look forward to as she showered and got dressed. Santana was pretty excited to help take Glee to the next level that year, for one. Halloween and Christmas were also looking pretty enticing with Rachel at her side, and her best friends back in the fold. And with the free time she had not leading the Cheerios, well, there was a lot of time to figure out where she'd fit in the future lives of her favourite people.

The naming quandary still hadn't been solved, though both Quinn and Britt seemed content enough with 'Fantastic Four'. Santana had never been a big fan of that team of superheroes as a kid, so needless to say, she disapproved, but if Rachel shifted over to their side, she'd have to give. There was no way Santana could say no to all three of her best friends.

As she stepped out of the shower, she noticed her phone beeping and couldn't hold back her smile as she crossed the room and unlocked it, knowing it was Rachel. Santana Lopez rarely woke up early for anyone, but Rachel had asked for her to come by at six thirty, and even though it was likely just a reminder, it was always pretty nice to hear from the diva. Rachel had a tendency to send her a text every night before bed, but sometimes she'd surprise Santana during the morning as well.

'Good morning, Santana! I hope you slept well and are nearly ready to pop by for breakfast. Can't wait to see you! xoxoxo - R*'

Santana smiled at the message, letting herself laugh a little at the diva's habit of ending her messages with a star. As the weeks had dragged on, she couldn't help but feel entirely endeared towards Berry's cute quirkiness, something Quinn teased her about relentlessly. Still, it was all good-natured, and it wasn't like she didn't also put up with a lot from B and Q that some people would deem odd, but her favourite girls had their crazy quirks. It was her job to, like, support that, and all.

And if she happened to enjoy those quirks, well, that was just a bonus.

It wasn't long before she was out the door and on route to Rachel's, the streets of Lima mostly quiet in the early morning. Sure, Santana could appreciate why Rachel was such a morning person, because there was a certain peacefulness and subtle energy to it all, but it still didn't beat those two extra hours of sleep in her warm, comfy bed.

Predictably, when she pulled into the driveway, Hiram was already outside watering the flowers lining the porch. The man was dedicated, she gave him that, and as per usual, she had no luck sneaking past him without being pulled into a hug. It was still something she was getting used to, never really having had adults in her life that were supremely affectionate like the Berrys. Sure, if her mom was upset and was willing to be seen that way, then she'd usually spend a while being clung to by her mom. And that was alright and all, but it was rare as hell. Adjusting to the Berry men hugging her when she arrived, when she left, when she did things like preparing some extra popcorn for a movie, or just at random, was a bit difficult. Still, it wasn't like Santana remotely hated it, it was actually alright, and they meant a lot to Rachel, so whatever.

"Alright, alright. You can get back to your prize-winning flowers, Hiram, I think I've been hugged thoroughly enough. Any longer and people might mistake you for a care bear." She noted with a bit of sass, knowing Hiram tended to enjoy that side of her. Thankfully, he relinquished his hold of her and shooed her toward the house, as if she'd been the one delaying her arrival.

"LeRoy's got pancakes and bacon waiting inside, and I'm sure a certain diva is waiting impatiently for you." The man stated with a smile that held a similarity to Rachel's in a way she couldn't quite put her finger on. Rachel looked so much like Shelby, but it was clear she hadn't gotten all of her looks from the older woman.

Santana nodded and jogged up to the front door, cautiously pulling it open and spotting Rachel nervously pacing off in the living room. Sure, by her phone, she was two minutes late, but Rachel had gotten used to a few minutes of variance. At least, Santana thought she had as she stepped into the foyer.

She was about to call out to Rachel when she noticed LeRoy was in the living room as well, and he and the diva were having some sort of conversation. "For the twelfth time, buttercup, it's taken care of."

"I just need it to be perfect, dad. You know how important this is to me." She heard Rachel argue with her typical passion. Even if it could be a hassle to navigate, and even though they disagreed sometimes, Santana always liked hearing that in Rachel's voice. Imagining Rachel without her trademark passion was like imagining Quinn without that stone cold eyebrow quirk, Britt without her sense of rhythm, and Schue without his vaseline hair. It just wasn't right. Well, except for Schue, he could use a hair care intervention, really.

"I know, and I'm telling you, everything you wanted is ready to go, except for the last item, but that's...as my email is telling me... out for delivery as we speak. So it'll all be ready. I promise." LeRoy spoke, clearly trying to reassure Rachel over whatever it was that was troubling the diva.

Unsure she should continue eavesdropping, Santana made a little more noise than usual in taking off her boots, hopefully making her presence known enough to draw her girlfriend's attention. And as she stood up fully, she barely had time to brace herself for the human-shaped missile colliding against her, Rachel's arms tightly encircling her waist in one of her usual overeager hugs.

"You're here!" Rachel exclaimed happily, swaying side to side when Santana returned the embrace, nuzzling her face in her girlfriend's hair to take in how freaking amazing the diva smelled. It was kind of unfair that Rachel always kept it a secret, but her girlfriend insisted that it let her keep some semblance of mystery.

Still, more mysterious than perfume at the moment was the lack of Rachel's usual manners in greeting her, which told Santana that something was a little off. It took the slightest quirk of an eyebrow when they separated for Berry to break, looking immediately flustered.

"Sorry, I just...it's the first day of school, and you're three minutes late, and I know you're often fashionably late no matter the occasion, but it's a big day and I'm a little nervous and on edge." Rachel rambled, and it was pretty believable, honestly. So Santana let her worries dissipate, leaning closer to kiss Rachel's temple and pull her into another hug.

"I know, your dad kind of cut me off at the pass, so you can blame him. But for the record...good morning, Rach." She noted in response, offering her girlfriend another kiss to the nose, knowing Rachel liked those best out of all their extra chaste, safe-for-Berry-household kisses. Not that kissing on the lips was entirely outlawed, but the Berry men had a tendency to catch them in the act and tease them relentlessly over it. Santana never minded all that much, but Rachel tended to get annoyed by their intrusions, so they kept those ones for when they were alone, at least in Rachel's house.

"Good morning, San." Rachel answered quietly with a pink blush filling her cheeks, her lithe hands moving down Santana's arms to play with her fingers. "We're going to be okay, today. We're going to have a fantastic breakfast and start the day off on the right note, and we're going to go to school, and...and we're going to be alright." The diva finished with a decisive nod, giving Santana's fingers a light squeeze.

They'd been working up to this morning for a while, both alone and in public, and she knew that despite all their preparations Rachel was still worried. It had taken a while to figure out what was troubling the diva, but it was nothing insurmountable. And really, it only warmed her heart more to know Rachel was just worried that she wouldn't be able to protect her girlfriend if push came to shove.

"We will, I know. I promise." Santana said, giving Berry's hands a little squeeze as well, hoping to reassure her. "Now, how about we get some breakfast? I'm starving."

Sure, Santana was still a little worried about how things would go and what people would say, but she had Rachel's support. She had Quinn and Brittany's support. And, despite not being one anymore, she had the full weight of the Cheerios behind her, which had been a pleasant surprise. Finally, spending the summer out and about with Rachel, and being pretty damn public, she was sure that to some degree, their relationship and her sexuality was old news. And that all had her feeling they'd be okay.

Rachel seemed to be at least a little less nervous as she shot Santana a smile and led her into the kitchen where LeRoy was waiting, frying up a fresh batch of bacon.

Yeah, she was pretty sure they'd start the school year off damn nicely.

In Rachel's eyes, the day had gone fairly well, all things considered. Aside from an off colour remark by Azimio, which resulted in an 'accidental' collision between him and Santana that may have ruptured a testicle and had him rushed to the hospital, life at school had gone swimmingly. Sure, she noticed a lot more leering than before, which was fairly expected given the utter lack of attention she tended to receive through her first three years at school, slushies aside. However, if a little more pseudo-sexual staring from other students was the price to pay for being out with Santana, then she was willing to pay it. Given some of the more fearful possible reactions to their being out together, it actually felt like a huge relief.

Frankly, being a romantic, she was fond of the mere idea of being in a public relationship. However, the specifics of Santana holding her hand as they walked the halls, Santana kissing her nose farewell after walking her to class, Rachel being able to hug Santana as often as she wished, Rachel not having to stretch her body to the heavens to kiss Santana's lips when they met for lunch, it was all quite wonderful.

Though no benefit of dating Santana was more spellbindingly wonderful as when the girl had, after walking Rachel to English at the end of lunch period, kissed her ear and whispered three very sweet words that continued to bounce around in her head throughout the rest of the day.

'Love you, Rach.'

They hadn't been dating tremendously long, but across that period of time, they'd spent much of it together, learning about each other and experiencing each other. There was never any pressure to say the words back, and Rachel had been thankful for it. Not because she wasn't ready; no, she had been ready since one morning nearly two weeks ago.

However, her flair for dramatics insisted that she express herself and how she felt properly. Which, naturally, was through musical performance, the most romantic of them all. It had taken days, literal days, to decide on the perfect song, and even longer to get everything prepared and in place, and now she was finally ready. Today was the day, and she couldn't be more excited about it.

And when Rachel skipped into the choir room for glee and saw the jazz band and some members of OSU's music program decked out with all the instruments she'd requested, her enthusiasm multiplied. Sure, the addition of a few older looking faces may have been suspicious, but McKinley regularly had seniors transferring in and out, so she figured it wouldn't raise too many eyebrows. Yet again, being first to glee practice bore fruit in her handing out her sheet music early, before anyone could spy what it was and ruin her surprise. Rachel managed to slip back into her usual seat before Kurt and Mercedes strolled in, both whispering and giggling as usual, likely going over all the new gossip they may have missed out on over the summer months.

Rachel sat there rummaging through her notebook idly, not really needing it, but wanting to appear in character in case Santana's psychic Mexican third eye flared up. Thankfully, when her girlfriend did arrive, it was with Quinn and Brittany in tow, and the raven-haired beauty simply blew her a kiss before climbing the risers to sit behind her in a row. Quinn had insisted that the three sit together and be isolated a little until after their musical number was finished, and Rachel understood that need to be entirely focused as a team, in preparation for their first number as a group since they joined glee.

Eventually, Mister Schuester decided to attend the club; the man's tardiness was one area Rachel hoped to improve upon before the end of the year, but she wasn't entirely confident in it, given how entrenched the habit was.

As per usual, the man did his spiel about taking this year's competition seriously, and opened the floor for new member auditions, Kurt's boyfriend Blaine singing a decidedly animated rendition of 'It's Not Unusual' to take his place among the team, Kurt rushing down to celebrate with him as the final notes played. It was honestly nice to see new members joining, and her jealousy not flaring up as it had in the past; while Blaine had been Dalton's star, she doubted he'd take too much spotlight from her, and would likely help their cause in pushing for a championship. So all in all, gaining a talented new member was a big step toward completing her annual goals.

"Great work, Blaine. Welcome to the New Directions!" Schuester exclaimed, patting the boy's shoulder amicably, and honestly they looked like two peas in a pod. Of course, Santana had remarked about the two's similarities over the summer months, mostly about how both of their hairstyles required peak saturation in gel or other products. Rachel had requested she be less vocal about it at school and in glee, but couldn't help but agree a little on the uncanny similarities, what with the hair, the plaid, the sweater-vests, the overly strong jaws, the animated stage presence, and a few other minor traits that were slightly unnerving.

Blaine moved back to his seat, but Kurt plopped down right beside Rachel instead of following his boyfriend up the risers. It was a curious move that could only mean the boy had something to question her about, otherwise most friendly comments would usually be left for after school.

"Any plans to start the glee season off with a bang, Miss Berry?" Kurt asked playfully with a light shoulder nudge. While it was true that she always had a number ready for every glee session, especially the first one of each year, Rachel just offered him a light smile and shook her head.

"I think I'll take a step back at first and let the rest of the members showcase their talent, and see who has taken time to prepare over the summer." Rachel explained, drawing a nod from the perfectly coiffed boy beside her.

"And you think anyone aside from us mainstays will? Rachel, we may be a good team, but we have leaders and we have, as Finn would call them, second-stringers, backups. And that's not bad, but if you're expecting them to step up…well, I won't be opposed to performing a number I worked on over the past week, and Mercedes is always ready to belt out something, because I expect a lot of open time to fill, as usual." Kurt argued, and in previous years he would be correct, but Rachel couldn't help but hold her smile and offer a shrug, knowing the lack of a verbose response would draw his attention.

Rachel lasted through two shoulder nudges, the second earning a low rumbling growl from Santana, before she broke her silence. "As Whitney Houston once sang, 'there can be miracles, when you believe…'. I think you might be surprised, Kurt."

"So, now that we've introduced Blaine, and discussed my expectations for the club this year, I'm going to open the floor to the club's members. I'm sure some of you had some eventful summers, and music is a fantastic way to express that, and how you feel starting another year of school. Does anyone have anything prepared?" Schuester asked, drawing the pair's attention to the front of the choir room. Rachel felt thankful the unholy trinity had prepared a song in case no one else did, because with how energized the teacher was, it was clear that he was eager to break out into song or, Barbra forbid, rap if given the chance.

Without word, the three girls behind her stood and made their way to the floor, Schue offering a confused smile as he stepped away and gestured for them to take it away. Again, it was understandable; it was rare enough that any of the girls would perform under the spotlight in glee, and as a trio, they had only done a single number. Judging by the rest of the group's reactions, it was clear that the club was a little intrigued.

Rachel watched the trio get into the familiar V formation she'd seen them practicing from; apparently, each girl had put forward a recommendation for the song choice, and Quinn had come out on top in a tournament of rock-paper-scissors. When the band broke into the opening melody of 'Come See About Me', Rachel could only sit back, relax, and watch her friends work their smoothly choreographed magic.

"Did you know about this?" Kurt whispered, distracting Rachel a tiny bit from the start of the performance, though she'd seen it about fifty times, so it wasn't exactly new and exciting. Well, still exciting, but not new.

"They collaborated on and choreographed a number of performances this summer in preparation for this year. This was one of them." Rachel bluffed, knowing the girls did work on a few different numbers, but if a little white lie could put a little fear into Kurt's competitive mind, all the better. The only reaction she needed from him was his eyes bulging at the perfect display in front of him; each girl was entirely in sync, from shifts of their hips to hand gestures to each of their voices.

With Quinn's pitch issues in her upper register now gone, which had been ironed out after extensive one on one sessions in late July, and Brittany's monotonous phrasing and inconsistent breath control improved upon through the work of Rachel's custom-crafted training program, the group's performance was reminiscent of a high efficiency Cheerios routine. That level of detail and perfectionism seemed to take its toll on Kurt as seconds passed, the boy sinking further in his seat over the course of the song, even if he was clearly impressed.

Feeling it impolite to talk during the group number, Rachel quickly sent a text to her friend-slash-competitor, wanting to stoke the fires of his ego a little. 'It seems as if some previous glee B-listers have risen up the club's totem pole, Kurt. With four new competitors for solos and duets, you may have your work cut out for you going forward. If you ever want to discuss duets or solos to better establish and develop your considerable talent, I'm always available.' She typed out, hitting send in time for her to catch the tail end of the song in full detail. Which, more or less, had Rachel's gaze all over her girlfriend.

Honestly, Rachel should have known Santana would have worn that green and blank striped dress, given Santana's love of teasing her over her well established minor fixation on the girl's cute bum. Each time the former cheerleader had her back to the risers and choreography called for looking over their shoulder or a turn, Santana's eyes would be full of mischief and locked on Rachel's own. Perhaps their effect on her would be less embarrassing had this been the first time witnessing it, but she'd sat in on the group's practice sessions at least a dozen times, and those looks never failed to send a rather lovely sensation through her body.

That, combined with the giddy joy that seemed to burst from all three girls as their song's last note faded away, was enough to propel Rachel from her seat to give each of them a patented Rachel Berry hug, starting with Brittany, and then Quinn, to get back at Santana for teasing her. So unfair.

"Girls, that was really impressive. Looks like we're going to have a lot more competition inside the club for nabbing those competition numbers now." Mister Schuester announced as he clapped in approval, matching the rest of the club's respectful applause.

"Well, we decided we weren't as polished as we needed to be to win last year, so we put in some work over the summer. Let this put everyone here on notice…being good isn't good enough. Step up your games or not only will our club be hard pressed to win it all this year, you'll be hard pressed to take those solos and group number spotlights from us." Quinn stated confidently, Rachel beaming with pride at the blonde slipping in a 'Hallelujah, Baby!' reference into her open challenge.

"Consider the gauntlet thrown, bitches." Santana laughed good-naturedly, pulling Rachel away from Quinn's side and into a tight hug as the rest of the glee members erupted in the risers. It was quite nice to hear the club so stirred up, but even nicer to be able to be close to her girlfriend again after a long afternoon of barely seeing each other. The taller girl, after a few fantastically pleasant seconds, loosened her hold and pressed those pillow soft lips chastely to her nose, drawing a blush to the diva's cheeks, and even more desire to ensure the rest of the day would go as planned.

Eventually, as Quinn and Brittany made their way back to their seats, the crowd died down a little, some looking on in confusion as Santana attempted to guide Rachel back to their seats as well, while the diva remained stock still.

"Mister Schue? May I present the club with a musical number of my own?" Rachel asked, shooting him a customary hopeful look that usually seemed to ensure his cooperation. Thankfully, he nodded, allowing her plan to be put into action right on schedule.

"The floor is yours, Rachel." He noted, taking a seat at the front of the risers as Rachel gestured to the group to get ready to start on the drummer's mark.

This was it. This was her grand gesture, her musical moment which she stuffed all of her emotions and bottled up thoughts and feelings into, needing Santana to know that she was ready to say those words now, that she was ready to express herself at the same level Santana had over the past weeks. Rachel was ready.

"I plant the kind of kiss that wouldn't wake a baby…on the self-same face that wouldn't let me sleep…" Rachel sang wistfully, recalling that one morning she woke and felt love wash over her as much as the early morning sunshine had washed over their gloriously tangled mess of limbs.

It was then that she had known the depth of her emotions for the sleeping girl beside her, and it had taken all her willpower not to wake Santana and express the balm on her soul the taller girl's love provided her. Not just due to the lack of proper musical accompaniment, but also because it was just after six in the morning and her girlfriend deserved all she could offer, even if that was just a few more hours of sleep at that point in time. Not that Rachel could get another wink of shuteye that morning after that revelation, certainly not with Santana looking so cute and relaxed as she slumbered.

Given the soft smile that took over Santana's features as Rachel held her gaze, it was clear her girlfriend knew she was being serenaded, and the sight of that subtle joy was enough to be certain she'd made the right decision.

"And the street is singing with my feet, and the dawn gives me a shadow I know to be taller…" She continued, unable to help from grinning at Santana letting out an amused laugh at the reference to her height, knowing the taller girl liked teasing her endlessly over it, even if it was always with good intent and was always made up for. "All down to you, dear. Everything has changed."

It was true, honestly. Santana had stepped into her life and expanded upon it wonderfully in a bevy of ways that made her want to keep growing, keep improving, to be a better person for herself, and for her girlfriend, and for her friends and family. Santana was flawed, true, but she challenged her and supported her in ways no other romantic partner had before, and it was a wonderful experience she couldn't get enough of.

"My sorry name has made it to graffiti. I was looking for…someone to complete me. Not anymore, dear. Everything has changed." Rachel sang as the orchestral members slowly swelled into the composition, coming to the most poignant lyrical point of the song, where she hoped the words would ring as true with Santana as they did with her.

There was a musicality to life when she was around Santana, one that may not have caused her life to be awash in dramatic music-driven events, but which nonetheless brought a subtle melody to their encounters that always had her on the verge of breaking out in song, and finding backing music in the ambient sounds surrounding them.

"You make the moon our mirror ball…the street's an empty stage. The city's sirens violins…everything has changed." As Rachel finished the chorus, she watched Santana's teeth pull at her lower lip, valiantly fighting the dazzling smile she knew her girlfriend was feeling. She wanted the former cheerleader to just let go and be that tiny bit vulnerable, to know she was safe with her, to know she was loved wholeheartedly. She wanted Santana to just let herself be, and embrace all Rachel was showing her. With all of the storming, bottled up emotions in her heart, she focused intensely on her girlfriend, dousing each of the following words with as much heartfelt sincerity as her body could muster. "So lift off love…lift off love…"

Just the sight of Santana's eyes growing wide and glassy the second that L word was sung had Rachel straining to finish the song and not just burst into a puddle of purified glee and bliss, seeing that love reflected back at her openly.

"We took the town to town last night…we kissed like we invented it." Rachel continued, stepping closer to the risers, closer to Santana's awestruck self, aborting her plan to stay put in favor of sharing this moment with the girl she'd fallen in love with. "And now I know what every step is for…to lead me to your door. Know that while you sleep, everything has changed."

Rachel crossed the final steps to Santana's chair and knelt before the beautiful girl who had captured her heart, carefully taking one of those smooth, strong hands in her own. "You make the moon our mirror ball…the street's an empty stage. The city's sirens violins…everything has changed." She sang, peering up at Santana, needing her to know what difference the girl made in her life, needing to know that this change both of them went through was a wonderful one, and one she cherished.

"Everything has changed…" Rachel repeated as the mini orchestra filled in their solo, allowing her enough of a breather to stand and tug at her girlfriend. Santana offered no resistance, allowing the diva to guide her out of her seat and to the middle of the floor.

As the music swirled around them, as the electricity of her emotions coursed through her body, Rachel couldn't help but smile brilliantly up at the radiant girl in front of her. Slowly, she lifted a hand to cup Santana's cheek, her girlfriend's eyelashes blinking welled up tears down her cheeks as a wide smile matched Rachel's own.

"So lift off, love…" She sang softly, the sound of strings filling the air and complementing her vocal tone, loving the small breathless laugh the words evoked from her girlfriend, loving that deep in those dark eyes of Santana, she could see how overwhelmed the girl was, yet Santana stood there with her instead of running out. Santana stayed, and let her share their love publicly, in song, in a grand gesture, without complaint or a hint of hesitance.

With that pure acceptance reflected back at her, with that openness warming Rachel's heart, and with the song basically over aside from a few more repetitions of that last line, Rachel led her girlfriend across the room to the door and led her out, any comments or praise from the other gleeks entirely unnecessary in comparison to the connection she was feeling between the two of them. The show would go on, she paid good money to ensure that, but she would allow herself to skip out on the final bits of a performance just this once.

As she silently skipped down the hall, Santana jogging along with her as the sound of music faded, Rachel could feel the unbound excitement of the night to come. It was only when they slipped into her Prius that their silence was effectively broken by Santana's lips crashing against her own, the former cheerleader moving across the center console to straddle her in the driver's seat. It was a tight fit, but Rachel was not about to complain.

She savored the kiss, so characteristically Santana in its passion and sheer need, her hands skimming down her girlfriend's torso to lightly grip that glorious bum of hers. Still, she had a schedule to stick to, and while making out in her car would be fantastic, she had a much better venue arranged for the night. A quick little pat to Santana's rear had the raven-haired beauty pulling away, eyes dark with desire, flitting back and forth between Rachel's own mocha irises and her kiss-bitten lips.

"Everything okay, estrella?" Santana murmured, her head leaning forward again to rest against Rachel's, their lips barely an inch apart.

"Everything's perfect, love." Rachel whispered in return, smiling up at the girl in her lap, adoring their proximity even if it was getting in the way of the second part of her reveal. "It's just that I might have arranged for a better place for us to…express ourselves." She added, fighting against giggles that threatened to erupt out of her as Santana peppered kisses across her face; while Rachel loved the affection, and wanted to give into it, she really did have better plans for the two of them than kissing in her car.

"You sang a love song to me." Santana spoke softly once she'd finished putting her mouth to work in wondrous ways, drawing a slight nod from Rachel, who was all too happy to wrap her arms around the girl's waist and hold her close. "You sang about loving me."

Again, Rachel nodded, taking a moment to plant a fleeting kiss to Santana's lips. "If there is any doubt in your mind, baby…I love you, Santana. I'm IN love with you." She confessed, getting the feeling that her girlfriend yearned to hear that string of words from her, and while Rachel would have preferred to do that at their eventual destination instead of her car, Santana's immediately tearfully blissful response was something she would never regret.

Not with Santana sinking against her, breaths hitched and unsteady as the girl's head slipped to the side of Rachel's, a soft cheek nuzzling against the diva's affectionately as they held each other in the driver's seat, the intimacy of the moment just about exceeding any other in her recollection, knowing what those words meant to Santana.

"I love you so much, Rachel." Santana whispered eventually, the girl settling in on Rachel's lap as comfortably as one could reasonably manage. "Sorry for, like…jumping you and all here, but I'm not sure you know what that meant to me, singing for me in there. Singing a song like that to me, about loving me, and…and now saying those words…God, estrella, I don't want to let you go, but I figure your grand gesture's probably not all over, is it?"

Rachel smiled at the shy rambling, enjoying that giddy little grin on her girlfriend's face, knowing she put it there, no one else. "There is a second part, yes. And I don't want to let go of you, love, but…we should get going, and I'll need both hands free to drive safely. However, if you felt like holding my thigh while I drive…"

Santana's theatrical sigh was nearly enough to have her laughing again if the taller girl hadn't thrown back her head and exposed that lovely, untouched neck of hers in the process. "If we must part…" Santana deadpanned as she reluctantly shifted back into the passenger seat, allowing one hand to remain on Rachel's thigh, gripping it lightly as the diva shook off her residual desire and started the vehicle.

Santana was pretty sure she was dreaming as Rachel drove her through Lima. The last twenty minutes or so had just been so surrealistically perfect that it was hard to wrap her head around it all. Not once had she heard a peep from Rachel about singing during the first glee session. Not once had she even heard a note or two of the song Rachel sang. So had she been confused as hell sitting there when Rachel's little impromptu orchestra started up? Hells yes.

But still, it was glee, it was music, and it was Rachel, so she hadn't been too surprised about the diva giving a performance. No, it was Rachel serenading her that had caught Santana off guard, never really having experienced that before. Honestly, it'd been heartwarming as all hell, and she hadn't cared that she looked like a sap being all smiles about it, either. Especially not when the song's first line was about kissing, and had Santana remembering back to all the amazing mack sessions she and Rachel had shared together.

But when that special four letter word left Rachel's lips, Santana had been stunned. Far too taken by surprise to mask her joy too much, certainly, and when those declarations were followed by more singing about kissing, all Santana had wanted to do was have their first kiss as a couple in love, to share their first hug as two women in love, and to be close to her girlfriend in general.

So maybe when Rachel pulled her out of her seat, Santana was too much in love to care about the consequences of what others might think, knowing whatever happened, they'd have each other. And maybe when they got into Rachel's car, she saw an opportunity to fulfill all three of her bubbling desires, and didn't quite care about the logistics of it all. Though it did bring up the fantasy of giving Rachel road head, which was more than a little frustrating to deal with as they zipped through the streets of their hometown.

Partially because she wanted to stop the car and continue expressing how amazing Rachel made her feel, and how happy she was, partially because Rachel never failed to get her libido thrumming, but also because she had no idea where they were going, having passed any general routes toward either of their homes. When Santana realized they'd driven through Lima and were on their way out southbound, she couldn't remain silent anymore.

"So…where are we going, preciosa?" Santana asked, the cogs in her brain spinning in an attempt to figure out what the diva had in store for them. She was honestly drawing blanks, and while that was exciting, always having loved surprises, or at least good ones, Santana couldn't help but just want to be at their destination as soon as possible.

"That would be a surprise, San. But don't worry, it's not a long drive." Rachel answered cryptically, and given that the diva hadn't tossed on her usual Barbra Streisand mix-CD, it was a good sign that they weren't more than a few minutes from wherever the hell they were going.

Still, Santana couldn't help but grin deviously as a memory popped into her head. "But Rachel, you did say before that it's important to be honest and open in our relationship, right?" She asked, earning arguably the hardest eye-roll she'd ever seen Rachel give, the diva letting out a disbelieving scoff at her attempt to weasel out the location. Once she was sure Rachel wouldn't budge on that front, Santana leaned closer to her girlfriend, her lips maybe an inch from the girl's cheek. "You won't tell me? Not even for a kiss?"

Santana watched Rachel's cheeks turn red, the diva's expression growing more determined, but still no answer. Feeling out of options to tease her girlfriend with, and more or less fine with having to wait, Santana kissed the diva's cheek before lifting up the center console and shifting in her seat to better lean against Rachel for the rest of the ride. "Okay, babe. I'll close my eyes, even, so your surprise is that much bigger. Sound good?"

"Technically…technically it's unsafe for you to be sitting like this, love, but…but I'm a safe driver, and I trust my abilities, so yes, close your eyes, baby. I'll let you know when we're there." Rachel whispered softly in response, the diva's words spurring Santana's eyelids to shut with confidence that whatever her diva had in store, it would be worth the wait and the hassle. Hey, snuggling up to Rachel in the car kept her close, and if she couldn't kiss or hold her until they stopped, then she could at least enjoy that.

As far as she was concerned, the ride wherever they went was smooth and not long enough, even if it did seem to go on longer than Santana expected it to. Given that midway through the drive, Rachel started humming that song she sang in glee, Santana figured that was the reason the diva hadn't put Barbra on, and maybe it earned her sweet as sugar girlfriend a foot massage later.

"So we're here, but can you keep your eyes closed just a little longer, San?" Rachel asked as the diva parked the car. It was a reasonable enough request, so Santana nodded and felt for the door handle, slipping out of the car and waiting to be escorted.

Barely seconds later, two hands slipped into Santana's own and slowly led her around, well, wherever they were. Santana could hear running water nearby, and the rustling of leaves, as well as the familiar crunching of twigs and rocks underneath. They were definitely outdoors, but given her father would generally take her out of state for any wilderness adventures, she wasn't quite sure where in the blue hell they were.

After a brief minute of walking, Rachel's hands slipped away, substituted by those two lithe arms wrapping around her waist from behind, the feeling of her girlfriend holding her for once sending Santana's heart aflutter for about the millionth time that afternoon.

"Open your eyes, baby." Rachel whispered into her ear, sending a brief chill down her spine from the wonderfully husky tone the diva could pull off sometimes.

For all Rachel had given her today, as far as Santana was concerned, the diva's wish was her command. Without a moment's hesitation, her eyes fluttered open and saw a sight that stole her breath. Resting a few feet away were their backpacks from their weekend trek through the wild, more or less just how they'd left them once they'd reached civilization again, complete with the tarp, tent and lantern that hung from hers.

It all brought back the memory of the attack, being so scared for Rachel's safety, being so upset over worrying her, and how the diva had protected her near the end. Santana's eyes scanned the area, spotting mostly a smallish densely wooded area with a cottage off in the distance, and a creek close by.

Rachel had taken her camping.

"Now, my dads insisted that they remain nearby as supervisors, so they booked the cabin, but I thought we could camp out here tonight, and you could show me how to put the tent together, because while you told me how to disassemble it, that's a much different process than assembling it, and it could help us start something new. I want to experience this part of your life with you, and I want to build this tent with you, and build a fire with you, and cook some vegetable soup with you, and curl up in our tent together, and carve our own little wooden tokens to commemorate tonight, and just experience what…" Rachel rambled, and while it was so sweet and cute, it was also too much for Santana to handle without a little hug action because fuck if she wasn't all misty eyed. So midway through the nervous rambling, after she'd gotten the gist of it, Santana turned in her diva's arms and pulled the girl as close to her as possible, relishing in the feeling of holding her girlfriend, and of being held by this intensely cute little fireball of a diva who so easily navigated the route to her heart.

"This…this is perfect, Rachel. I want all of that with you." Santana choked out, pulling back far enough to plant a lingering kiss on the diva's lips, packing as much love into those few seconds as she could, needing to both show and tell Rachel how she felt. With a light caress to her girlfriend's cheek, Santana leaned back, their lips parting far enough for her to speak again. "You understand you're making it hard for any potential ladies in my future to live up to you, right?"

Rachel's eyebrow shot up, the girl shooting her a thankfully playful glare once Santana realized what she'd said. "I'll remind you I'm an only child who loathes sharing, San. I play for keeps."

With her cheeks all warm and blushing once more, Santana dipped forward, pecking a quick kiss to her girlfriend's nose, an unspoken thanks for seeing through her words to her real message, and for replying in kind. For once, she was wanted as much as she wanted. She was loved as much as she loved. And that had her heart feeling so tremendously full she could barely believe it was her own.

"I love you, Rachel. More than I think I could ever express, but like hell if I won't try." She whispered once her lips were clear of that cute nose of Rachel's, knowing she'd told the girl those words dozens of times already, but feeling like it was necessary to really push the point home and, as the diva put it, start something new. Something great.

"And I love you, Santana Lopez." Rachel spoke in turn, smiling at her with such blatant hope and love that it was staggering to her instincts, but soothing to her heart, knowing she might not be used to it yet, but that Rachel Barbra Berry was pretty damn special. Certainly more than capable of rendering one Santana Lopez a puddle of romantically infused goo with the flash of a single smile.

It had her hoping this could last.

"Then let's get started, estrella."

A/N: It was hard to finish this story. Mostly because as I edited it, I wasn't sure on what note to end it. Decided to go the sappy/fluffy route, because like hell if it isn't the season for that sort of thing, and both of these girls deserve something nice and wonderful, at least for a while. I hope you enjoyed this little adventure as much as I have!

Anywho, thank you all so much for reading and all the favourites, follows, alerts, and especially the reviews! I hope you all are having wonderful holiday seasons, and I wish you all tidings of comfort and joy :)

Thanks again, and catch you around!