Evening of Thursday, December 16th
Another year, another inevitable disappointment. Like clockwork, autumn would slip into the unforgiving chill of winter, and with it so would Santana's home life vanish. Not that she wasn't totally used to her circumstances by now, because she'd learned to accept that her parents would leave and spend half of December away from her, but it didn't change the fact that her home life would simply cease to exist. Her sister Camilla was down in Texas working hard on her PhD, and her parents would be leaving for the airport right after they had dropped her off.
Which admittedly was new, but also more than a little depressing. In the past, she'd been left mostly alone at home, though she'd had friends and extended family making occasional visits. This time, Quinn was in Chicago visiting Frannie and her fiancé for the holidays, Brittany was heading to the Netherlands to visit her grandmother as she usually did, and her extended family decided they wouldn't make any visits. Which was also new, and from what Santana understood, heavily related to her public incident a month and a half ago. And, well, her parents just couldn't leave her entirely alone, so when one of their coworkers insisted on housing her for the duration of her parents' conference-slash-anniversary vacation, they couldn't say no. And it didn't cross their minds to even ask Santana's opinion, of course.
And so there she stood at the side of the road, the sound of her parents' SUV driving away filling her ears as she looked at the goddamned Berry residence. Home to Rachel Berry and her two doting fathers, a house where she would be cooped up in for a little over two weeks. Fuck my life…seriously, Fuck. My. Life.
Santana was far from pleased. Her parents hadn't even listened to her when she regaled them with tales of how she and Rachel didn't get along, and instead insisted that she behave like a proper guest and treat them properly. Which, in her mind, meant that she'd probably hole up in whatever dark corner of the house she was given, and get a head start on her schoolwork and sleep twelve hours a day, occasionally going downstairs to make her presence known whenever necessary. Because really, being sociable with Rachel Berry was dangerous, mostly because the hobbit had an issue with speaking in large paragraphs instead of sentences like regular human beings. Also because she was obsessed with musicals. And, of course, she was more than a little overbearing. Even with Berry having been a bit better so far during their senior year, there were a lot of things about the diva that she was pretty sure would be entirely aggravating, so for Santana, the future wasn't looking so rosy.
"Well, fuck, at least Hanukkah's over and I won't embarrass myself over that…whatever, let's see just how big of a train-wreck this can be." She muttered to herself as she hauled her luggage up the walkway and to the front door, ringing the doorbell with her elbow as her hands were both full.
Muffled pitter-pattering of feet followed suit, and soon the door swung open to reveal Rachel Berry, in all of her animal sweater-wearing glory. "Good evening, Santana!" the girl exclaimed happily, though her features turned ever so slightly harder immediately afterward. Which, you know, may or may not have been because Santana rolled her eyes. "Now, before you enter my family's home, I must make it clear that you're expected to be respectful, and I won't tolerate any bullying or disparaging remarks as this is my sanctuary, not McKinley High, and while my fathers may not be home at this instant, they are assuredly on their way home from the grocery store by now with…"
"Berry, calm your tits. It's cold as hell out here, and I get it…no names and shit. Whatever." Santana said as she interrupted the diva's egregiously long rant. "It's like you think I haven't been to people's parents' houses before or anything."
"Oh, um…yes…I suppose you can come in. Just remember I have a zero tolerance policy, and so do my fathers, and while I would lament any egregious missteps in behaviour on your part, not only due to the offense itself, but also due to the fact that we agreed to take you in, I fear..." Rachel started rambling confidently, stepping to the side to allow Santana entry. As she moved into the foyer with Berry still babbling her ear off about something or other, she caught Rachel about to grab one of her suitcases.
"Hands off." She bit out, twisting away from the diva, freezing the girl in place with a glare. "Look, I'll stay out of your hair, you stay out of mine, and we're good, okay? My day's been crazy, so I'll just set up and go to bed early or something."
Rachel stood about a foot away, having flinched when Santana had snapped at her; the girl's gaze was stuck on hers and it was kind of weird to see the diva's eyes so apologetic. "Sure. I'll show you to your room, Santana."
She trudged up the stairs after the smaller girl, hoping that her stay there wouldn't be an absolute nightmare. It had potential, sure, but Santana wasn't much of a gambler on things like this; she bet that it would be a long, hard two weeks. Which really wasn't anything she wanted to imagine.
Evening of December 17th
Despite her love for all things Nathan Fillion, Rachel was too distracted to focus on the screen in front of her. Castle was always a fun show to watch, but where he and the real detectives were currently perplexed over some case or another, she was perplexed over Santana. Rachel had seen the girl once in the last twenty four hours, during a brief dinner session; her fellow gleek had eaten the meal and washed her dishes in the span of fifteen minutes, hurrying back upstairs directly afterward. Not only that, but Santana was eerily quiet, answered any questions quietly and politely, and didn't even glare at her when she went off on a rant mid-way through the meal. Hey, it wasn't her fault that Elizabeth Hasselbeck made a semi-disparaging remark about Barbra Streisand on The View, and SOMEONE needed to know that what was said was utterly reprehensible, of course.
Ultimately, Santana just seemed to be acting strangely, and her fathers hadn't been their usual attentive, hyper-friendly selves around the girl. Normally if they housed a guest, her dads would be fawning over them, but they more or less kept their distance and only addressed her when she was near, and even then they were restrained. It was all a bit weird, and she was having a tremendously difficult time understanding what was going on.
The first thought that came to her mind was that maybe Santana had threatened her parents, but that was quickly dismissed, because the girl likely hadn't brought anything terribly dangerous in her luggage, and if she had threatened them, they would have said some of their pre-practiced emergency phrases. On top of that, if the girl had gained some upper hand through threats, Rachel figured Santana would have been treating their home as her own, which simply wasn't happening.
Her second thought was that Santana bribed her fathers to just leave her alone, which had very much been a possibility. Despite her fathers having quite successful careers with rather hefty salaries, she knew that they tended to take whatever opportunities they came across to add to her post-secondary education fund. It was one of the only areas where they would toss morality aside, so taking money from a teenage girl didn't seem too far of a stretch, but she'd checked their bank account just after dinner and noticed that the balance hadn't changed at all. So that was out as a possibility as well.
Which left Rachel with a mess of unlikely reasons for the trio's behavior, all of which had her head spinning. It wasn't as if she needed an answer, she just really, really wanted one, but she also wasn't sure she could trust the word of her fathers on it, considering they were acting weird themselves. So she sat there, Castle playing in the background as she deliberated on the issue. Until she realized she was starting to nod off, which immediately took her focus away from the trio's behavior, and toward the fact that it was late and she hadn't started her night-time routine yet. Which honestly was quite horrible, as she always tended to be less effective and efficient when she was tired; meaning, her morning routine would need extending, which would get her day started off worse, something she always wanted to avoid.
Rachel got to her feet, sleepily navigating her way through the living room and the kitchen, her eyelids feeling tremendously heavy. It was then that she decided that such heavy thinking could be left for a mid-day activity in order to spare her such an experience. She groggily moved up the stairs one at a time, her hand on the railing as she ascended in order to keep her balance. Her lips formed a smile as she spotted her doorway down the hall, the promise of sleep and rest luring her forward.
But not too much forward, as Rachel felt herself collide with something firm, sending her unexpectedly stumbling backward toward the staircase. Her hand flung out and luckily managed to grab a hold of the railing's end-post, while a warm, damp hand caught hold of her other wrist. Rachel's focus returned quickly, and she found herself staring at a near-nude Santana Lopez in a small, white towel. And when Santana yanked her further from the danger of falling down the stairs, she was within inches of said nearly nude girl, who looked both concerned and amused if that was possible.
"Totes past your bedtime, Berry. You should be more careful or whatever." The girl noted, exhaling sharply through her nose as she slipped past Rachel and into the nearby guest room.
Rachel stood there in shock for a few seconds, her sleep-deprived brain needing a few seconds longer to really process what had just happened. Santana Lopez just…just helped me from falling down my staircase…and she didn't insult me, nor was there any malice in her tone. She didn't shoulder-check me either, or do anything else that was violent…she merely told me to be careful, which was good advice given my current state… she mused, looking back toward the closed guest-room door. Very strange…but I'm already late. Perhaps I'll sleep on it and let myself worry tomorrow. And I'll set alarms to remind me when to go to bed, too, because I don't want a repeat of this…
Santana would be lying if she wasn't ninety percent amused, flopping down onto the bed in her room. She'd honestly never seen anyone look and act so ridiculously sleepy before, the girl practically toppling sideways onto her after unsteadily ascending the staircase. That extra ten percent was adrenaline from watching Berry almost fall to her doom. The scene kept replaying in her mind, and she couldn't help but laugh under her breath at how the girl had just stood there, all bleary-eyed and stunned. Truthfully, she'd expected some sort of verbal reaction from the diva; the silence she'd received was a bit unnerving. Even at dinner, Berry was uncharacteristically soft-spoken, only breaking that with a short twenty or thirty second rant about something related to Barbra Streisand. Santana had expected the girl to be her usual overbearing, loud, hyperactive self, but Rachel had pretty much kept out of her way, and looked wary about even the prospect of interacting with her. It was kind of really strange, and she didn't know what to think about it. Silently, she hoped the girl wasn't scared of her; Santana thought she'd done enough since joining glee to basically show that she wouldn't be violent or shit. At least, barring that one time where she DID try to maul Berry. But that was, like, only one time.
Not quite tired enough to go to sleep, Santana quickly got dressed, slipped under the warm sheets, and flipped open her laptop, deciding to check her facebook. It had been something of a habit that time of year, to see what everyone on her friends' list was up to. Just like she'd been doing for the majority of the past thirty hours. Apparently Brittany spent all afternoon looking for polar bears and mountain goats, Quinn finished her holiday shopping at the Oak Brook Center, and her cousin Nicole spent the day at the beach down in Florida, because apparently some heat wave rolled through there. Awesome…they're off doing cool shit and here I am, being a holiday hermit in someone else's home. Fuck it's pathetic how lon…how L-word I am. You'd think I'd be used to it by now… she thought, letting out a long exhale, sinking further back against her pillows. I need to get a grip…feeling sorry for myself is fucking stupid. I have a small handful of really good friends, I have money, I have parents that love me even if they're not around all the time, I have some of the best grades in McKinley's senior class and a kick ass portfolio, both of which should get me acceptance into the program for my sort-of dream…I'm doing alright.
And it was true, she did feel fortunate. She led a pretty great life, and was pretty happy most months of the year, but it was just 'that time of the year', and it was a big reason why she had a sort of masochistic love-hate relationship with December. It was the 'holiday' season, everyone was gathering with their friends, families and loved ones, and despite being housed by the Berrys, it didn't change that she was just as alone as always. They weren't her family, they weren't her friends, and while she held some sort of love for Rachel as a teammate, it didn't really extend beyond an 'I have your back if shit goes down' kind of thing.
"Well, at least it'll be the last one where I'm stuck watching them leave…I'll be in New York this time next year, probably with, like, friends and shit." She muttered to herself as she scanned through her front page, looking at all the entries about Christmas and shopping and snow and whatever. And sure, she knew that things would be different once she graduated, but it didn't change the present. It didn't change that for two weeks, she had to spend a bunch of time in a house that wasn't hers, and with people she didn't really know well.
Seeing no one of note on Facebook's chat, she hopped onto Skype, hoping that maybe Quinn or Britt were there, but she was quickly disappointed. Fuck…I just want to freaking talk to SOMEONE. Why can't they be on Skype for at least, like, a half an hour a day? That'd be awesome…
Santana shut down Skype and as she was about to close the browser with Facebook, she came to a realization that for once, Rachel hadn't been spamming shit all over her wall. She decided to take a moment to see what was up, because if anyone was a prolific status updater in glee, it was Rachel. Well, Kurt and Mercedes did it more, but Rachel was pretty close in terms of posting stuff like four or five times a day, and her updates tended to be massive paragraphs. Upon first glance, she didn't see anything, so Santana went to Rachel's page, finding the last update was Thursday after the girl's final exam of the semester. Weird…thought she would have been all "We need to focus on regionals now, so I'm going to spam fifty songs tailored to each member so we can prepare over the break" or whatever, like usual, but she's gone all radio silence or shit, and…wait, what? She froze as she looked at the info box on Rachel's profile, one specific detail capturing her full attention. The hobbit's birthday is tomorrow? What the fuck! Why did no one tell me this? Wait…why isn't there an event for it? I mean, it's Berry…she's like a living, organized, five year plan, she HAS to have a…
Then it struck her, as her memory finally broke through the shock and confusion. She didn't have a party last year…or sophomore year, either…hell, I've been in her classes since, like, fifth grade, and I don't think I've ever heard her invite anyone, not even back when she and Britt were closer…
An idea slowly took shape in Santana's mind; while she knew it was kind of a heavy risk, and that it could backfire wildly, she really wanted something to do that involved not moping around on her computer. Boredom and self-pity were starting to grate on her nerves. Besides, she didn't want to spend two full weeks alone, and testing the Rachel Berry waters to see if the girl could be at least a little tolerable seemed like a good enough idea. Worst case scenario, she could go full hermit style again and bribe B & Q to hop on Skype more often.
Santana, feeling somewhat content with her very loose plan of action, shut down her computer and placed it on her nightstand; when she closed her eyes, she knew she was in for more of a nap than a full fledged sleep, but figured it would maybe be worth it if all went well. It was just a little weird to do any of that 'best foot forward' stuff for once, was all. Whatever, I'll deal with it. So long as Berry can tone down her diva, I'll tone down my bitch...
A/N: Okay, so I know I said I probably wouldn't be posting until the tenth of December at the earliest, but I decided that I was kind of in a giving mood after having so few releases over the past months. Sooooo… I kind of just took one of my b-side "not-sure-if-this-is-top-quality-stuff-but-it's-kinda-good-enough" fics sitting around on my computer and decided to lay it out there. Admittedly, this fic is mostly fluff. Like, 85% of it, probably, if I had to guess. And my renditions of Santana and Rachel are a bit looser, because I wrote this in early September after doing all those crazy one-shots for Encores, and Mirrorball and finishing YYZ, and my head was all over the place on which Santana was which, and which Rachel was which. It's the only reason why I was a bit nervous to post this, because while I feel they're mostly consistent, there are small little bits where I can't help but wonder if this fic's San/Rachel would think/do that, or if it's some other San/Rachel influencing them…there's a little more grey area, but still…I think it's a fun fic. I haven't finished it yet (*gasp*), but it's about 49k words long, and I've got about 10 chapters of it ready to go, and it's NEARLY done. So I'll post new chapters at my leisure…maybe every second or third day :) I just want to make December a good, productive month, and considering this is pretty much all complete, I'll be able to post this, maybe keep you all entertained a bit, all while finishing my final papers, recovering from school and hopefully working on(and publishing!) Mirrorball/Sanvean/Feathers. And maybe I'll have something else to post, too. Maybe something for Encores as well! Who knows? :O
Anywho, I just wanted to get this month off on the right foot, so here's hoping you all have a great December 1st!
Thank you all again for your tremendous support and love and comments and everything :D