Disclaimer: Do not own characters or lyrics.
Author notes: Takes place season five, in between episode 3 and 4, post Finn death.
How to move on
The first place she went, after leaving Lima and coming back into New York City, was not work or dance class or even her apartment with Kurt and Rachel, although Santana knew that this was probably exactly where she should be. She had traveled lightly to Lima, taking only the clothes and accessories she would need for the couple of days she had been there to honor Finn in the weeks after his death, but she nevertheless still had her bag and should probably have dropped it off. She should have spent some time with Kurt and Rachel, as she hadn't had much of a chance to check on Rachel especially in Lima with all the other Glee members swarming over her and since she had been staying with her dads rather than with Kurt or Santana. She should have been making sure they were both okay in the aftermath of such an emotional trip, especially since Kurt had shown very little in the way of emotion and in fact had spent more time comforting Santana then she had even though to check in with him.
She should be with her roommates, and she knew this. But still it didn't stop her instincts from propelling her directly to her girlfriend's apartment and knocking on the door, waiting, nearly holding her breath, for her to open up to let her in.
Santana had been slow to reply to Dani's texts while she was in Lima; they had agreed before she left that Dani would not call her unless Santana asked for her to, because, according to Santana, Santana was bad at remembering to turn her cell phone off, and the ringing might interrupt a group kumbayaya session or someone's emotional outpouring mid sentence. That was what Santana told her, and she had known in the back of her mind that this was of course partly true. But what actually bothered Santana about the thought of Dani calling her while she was in Lima was that if she picked up the phone and actually heard Dani's voice aloud, the concern and caring that would be audible in her tone for her, she wouldn't be able to handle anything anymore. She was afraid that if she heard Dani, she would break down crying and be unable to stop.
Even talking to Dani through texting had been hard enough; the girl's pictures and emoticons, sent to cheer her up and show support for the difficult time she knew Santana must be having, was already enough to cause a lump to rise in Santana's throat and to make it difficult for her to think or speak when she read them. She took to "forgetting" to charge her phone after a while, not even able to function as she would like by reading texts, and before she knew it she was simply not looking at her phone at all.
She knew that Dani must be wondering or worrying about her, likely to the extent that she had texted Kurt or Rachel too just to check up on her, though Santana had expressly forbidden her from doing so. But even this was not the reason that she went first to Dani. Santana went to Dani because she wanted to, because she needed to…because she knew even before it happened that she needed somewhere it would be safe to just for a few more minutes, really let herself fall apart, but also allow for the comfort she could not accept in Lima.
She wasn't sure why she couldn't in Lima, except for who it would have been from. She didn't want or even deserve people like Mike Chang or Marley Rose or any one of the others to try to comfort her, not when they, unlike her, had had unfailingly great relationships with Finn. Almost all of the rest of them had hardly ever even argued with him, let alone had the antagonistic interactions that she had, and all of them had much more right to be sad, much more right to mourn and feel terrible over his death, than she ever would. How was it right for them to hug her or have sympathy for her when she was the least deserving of grief at all and they all knew it?
But Dani didn't know that. No matter what Santana might tell her or try to explain to her, Dani never knew her as Santana Lopez the cheerleader, Santana Lopez from Lima Heights; she only knew her as her girlfriend. And that, she realized, if unconsciously, was exactly what she needed.
When Dani opened the door for her, all it took was one look at her, at the softness in her eyes as she reached a hand out to Santana, tucking a loose strand of hair behind her ear as she said her name. One look, and Santana felt a shudder roll through her, a sob rising up her throat before she had to press both fists against her mouth and shut her eyes in her effort to hold back tears.
She wasn't sure if she instinctively moved forward or reached out towards Dani or if Dani reached for her, drawing her in close, but either way, she found herself being lead forward by gentle hands, pulling her out of the doorway, heard the door close quietly behind her before Dani guided her towards her living room couch. The same hands were slowly easing her down to sit, and then Dani's arms were around her, drawing Santana's head against her chest, a chin resting lightly on her head as slow, sure hands stroked her back and shoulders.
Dani didn't say anything to her, didn't make the inane mumblings that people always seemed to believe were required when someone was crying about how it was all okay, or that she shouldn't cry, or even that she should cry. She didn't even tell her that she was there for her or that she loved her; she didn't say anything at all, except through the acceptance and love that her two hands could convey. She held Santana, rocking her slightly in her arms, and when Santana finally drew in a shaky breath and began to pull back a little, beginning the process of composing herself again, she remained close, kissing her temple as she let her regain space.
"This is fucking stupid," Santana ground out finally when she could manage, her voice hoarse and rough even to her own ears. "I already cried like three times in Lima, when the hell am I going to run out?"
"I don't think there's ever a limited supply, babe," Dani said to her softly, smoothing her fingers through her hair. She didn't try to tell her that it wasn't stupid, or even that she didn't mind being with her while she cried, and for that Santana appreciated deeply, even as she continued to verbally protest against her own behavior.
"I don't know why the hell I'm even being like this. Why do I even CARE, it's Finn. It's Finn, we weren't even really friends, we were just sort of forced into each other's circles, and…."
She trailed off, knowing full well how simultaneously true and false the statement was, and not having the energy to bother completing the statement. Dani kissed the side of her head again, then rubbed a hand over her shoulder as she answered.
"Because you liked him, Santana, and you're going to miss him. Because you loved him."
"No I didn't," Santana argued, trying to bring her voice to a snapping tone, but it sounded more exhausted than anything else and she knew it. Dani knew it too, and didn't allow her to have the last word as she countered her in a quiet but firm tone, still rubbing her hand over her arm.
"You did, Santana. I never even met Finn and even I know that. You loved him, and you respected him, and he loved and respected you. Maybe you didn't always show it and maybe you didn't even always feel it, but that doesn't make it any less true. He was your friend, your family in a way, and so it hurts. It hurts that he's gone, it hurts that you didn't get to say goodbye, and it hurts to see how much it hurts everyone that he loves. It hurts, Santana, and you can't, not for one second, pretend otherwise…it hurts. And that's how it's supposed to be."
She was quiet again as Santana's face crumbled, as she slowly folded herself back against the crook of Dani's neck, and when she felt warm tears leak through her shirt, Dani enclosed her arms around her and fell back into silence. It was what Santana needed, what she had sought out above all else, and she would make sure that she did not deny her.
It had been a given, the first night after the phone call from Kurt's father, that Rachel would not sleep alone. Neither Kurt nor Santana would have even thought of allowing her to, not just for her sake but for their own peace of mind. After seeing the girl cry for over three straight hours, until she threw up and then dry heaved miserably, dehydrated to the point of no longer being able to cry, seeing her end up curled up, almost entirely mute, on their couch, her eyes wide, blank, and clearly shocked, shivering even under the heavy blanket her roommates had found and wrapped around her, they didn't want to leave her alone for five minutes, let alone throughout the night.
They had all ended up squeezing into Rachel's bed together, that first night, with Rachel in the middle, both her roommates bookending her on either side. It was not the first time that this had ever happened, but it was the first time that all three of them were sober, and it was definitely the first time that all three of them that there was no fighting for possession of the blankets, no kicking or jostling or pinching beneath the sheets as they maneuvered for extra space, and when Santana woke up to realize that Rachel's arms were around her waist, her nose pressed into her collar bone, and Kurt's cold foot was pressed flat against her shin, she didn't protest or pull away, or even mentally file the incident to bring up later to tease with. Instead, she wrapped her arms more securely around Rachel, closing her eyes, and she let Kurt's foot stay exactly where it was.
They had left the next day for Lima, and of course, they had all slept in their own family's houses, presumably in their own beds, although Santana wouldn't have been surprised if Rachel had slept with her fathers, or if her fathers had stayed in her bedroom with her until they were sure she was asleep. Santana couldn't deny that the thought had crossed her mind that if her father was working late, she would not only be willing to sleep with her mother, for the first time since she was maybe four years old, but would even prefer it. But once they were back in New York City after the funeral, and then again, after the memorial a couple of weeks later, they seemed to fall back into the pattern of that first night, as though it were now natural and expected that none of them would be alone. Each night it was not a question as to where anyone would sleep; whenever anyone was tired, they natural headed towards Rachel's bed and lay down, knowing that the others would eventually join them.
They got used to waking up briefly when the others shifted or made noise in their sleep, to tugging back sheets and blankets over themselves if they were on the ends, to accidental kicks and overlapping limbs, occasionally waking up to someone's fist entwined through hair or someone's face pressed against a back or shoulder or arm. They got used to awakening to the sound of someone's muffled tears and the sleepy reaction to wrap an arm around that person, pulling them in closer and feeling the sobs rattle through their chest. They got used to Kurt talking in his sleep and Rachel's tendency to cling and Santana's occasional snoring, to Kurt's cold hands and feet and Santana's kicking and Rachel's cover stealing. They got used to it until it seemed it had always been, and by the time Kurt finally detached himself from the sleeping arrangement and started to sleep in his own bed again, it almost felt as though something were missing.
Kurt returned to his own bed, eventually; Santana never did. It was simply understood, between her and Rachel, that if they were both home and Dani wasn't staying over, that Santana would be sleeping with Rachel, without either of them having to ever discuss this at all.
They usually started out with plenty of space between them, more so with Kurt no longer joining them, a clearly defined distance separating their bodies. But as the night progressed it was almost inevitable that Rachel would violate their boundaries and end up on Santana's side of the bed, sometimes almost pushing her off its edge as she pressed up against her side and sometimes half draped herself over her. A year ago, Santana would have been completely weirded out, maybe even a little horrified; now, she didn't have the heart to even try to dislodge her. Now, she could sleep through it and not even really mind.
Sometimes, on the good nights, they were both able to get in bed, get to sleep, and actually wake up with nothing more eventful occurring than occasionally kicking or elbowing each other in the night. But sometimes their nights were more restless, with both or neither unable to settle down, tossing and turning and frequently disturbing the other girl too as they tried unsuccessfully to settle enough to sleep. Sometimes Santana woke to hear Rachel, her face buried in her pillow as she tried to keep her from hearing her tears, and she could never let herself roll over and go back to sleep until she was sure that Rachel had stopped. Santana herself never cried, never would let herself, at least not until she knew for sure that Rachel was asleep and would not hear. And sometimes, it seemed that every noise, every movement all around them was too much, too distracting to even begin to be able to block out, and they would find themselves whispering instead, talking late into the night until they were finally able to lull themselves to sleep with the sound of their own voices.
They never talked about it in the morning. Nothing that happened in that bed in the night, or even the fact that they still slept together at all, was open for discussion, even when they were alone. But they knew every day, that they would have that time together in the night, and no matter how tough it was sometimes to get through the day, there was always that knowledge that at night, they would not be alone.
Even after she was back in New York City with Kurt and Rachel, trying to get back into her usual routine and to feel some sense of normal again, Santana was bothered about the jacket.
It wasn't just the fact that it was missing, that she still had no idea where it was or who could have taken it. She had been sure at the time that Puck must have done it- after all, hadn't he wanted it, and hadn't he been pissed off and stealing trees that were associated with Finn too? But he had denied it so vehemently and with so much seemingly genuine hurt and anger at the accusation that looking back more calmly, she doubted he actually had. But if he hadn't, then who? What undeserving asshole had ended up with Finn's jacket, the best thing of his, the thing most associated with him and who he had been, that they could possibly have chosen- the jacket that was supposed to be HERS? The jacket that was the one piece of him, other than pictures, she would have had?
Not, of course, that Santana herself had really been deserving of it either, if she was honest, she could admit. She had not been a good friend to Puck, or really hardly a friend at all, most of the time. He had been a nicer person than her, a better and more forgiving person than her, and she had never truly understood that until she could never acknowledge it at all. But nevertheless, Kurt had given it to HER, wanted HER to have it, and someone had walked off with it like it meant nothing at all.
It wasn't just that it was missing, or even that someone had stolen it from her, thought. It was the fact that to Santana, it seemed that the jacket somehow was Finn. When Kurt had wrapped it around her shoulders, she was sure she could still smell Finn in it, and it's ridiculously long sleeves and oversized shoulders around her had almost felt like a hug. A hug from Finn.
She had rarely kept herself open to any physical affection from him, when he was still around, but on the few occasions that he had hugged her, they had always been warm and genuine, making her smile and feel good even if she tried to hide it that she enjoyed it. Having Finn's jacket would be like being able to get a hug from him whenever she wanted, any time, and with it gone, she wouldn't have that option.
Santana had tried to resign herself to it being gone, but even so, she had found herself, once or twice, lingering in Rachel's room at her closet, looking through the few shirts of Finn's that Rachel had and wondering if she would notice if Santana took just one.
"There's no excuse," Santana said tightly, the muscles of her back drawing together tensely as she stood up very straight, unconsciously clinching her jaw as she spoke into the phone. Her fingers around its receiver were nearly white with the pressure that she was exerting on it, and she stood very still as she struggled to maintain some degree of neutrality, or at least to keep from just yelling every single thought that was in her head in the moment. "You should have been there, Quinn. You needed to be there."
She heard the line crackle as the other girl sighed on the other end of the receiver, and she heard the tension in Quinn's voice too as she responded to her, the apologetic guilt that had previously colored her voice now slipping.
"Santana, I told you. I had already taken off so much time for the funeral, and it's not like high school, you don't get make up tests and excused absences from every teacher, and it's not the kind of work you can do with your eyes closed off two hours' sleep like in Lima High. I actually have to keep up with the work and do it, and I have to be there, in class, for that to happen. I would have been there if I could, Santana."
"No, you COULD have been there, and you chose not to," Santana contradicted her, hearing her voice rise slightly in volume and not caring in the slightest to try to dial it back down. She started to pace the living room, grateful that both Kurt and Rachel were out for now, so she could have this conversation in relative space and privacy. "You could have said or done what it took to get your ass down to Lima for Finn's memorial, Quinn, you CHOSE not to. For fuck's sake, you slept with one of the professors, don't tell me you couldn't have pulled a few strings to get those snotty rich asses to excuse you for whatever the hell you wanted. All you'd have to do is bat your eyelashes and shake that ass of yours a little and they'd be eating out of your hand, and you know it. You CHOSE not to find a way."
"Is that what you think I do up here, Santana?" Quinn's voice was definitely growing more hostile now, its volume still quiet, but the growing undertone of anger made it seem very possible to Santana that she might soon begin to scream. "You think I just, what did you say, "shake that ass of mine" to get what I want? You don't think I work and fight every step of the way? Do you understand that you basically just asked me to prostitute myself to get what I want?"
"Well, says the girl who slept with her professor," Santana shot back, and she heard Quinn suck in her breath before her voice's volume did rise several notches.
"Sour grapes much? Just because some people can't take the pressure of going to college at all, even in a sucky hick school like Louisville where the work is tailored to the IQs of KENTUCKY cheerleaders…. just because some people would rather drop out of school, get a job at a strip joint, and drift through life with no goal or plan at all...rather ironic that those kind of people would be the ones to imply successful people who actually are making something of their life are prostitutes…"
"Well since you slept with me, what the fuck does that make you?" Santana shot back, and as she heard Quinn draw in her breath, seeming to not have a comeback for that for the moment, she went on, her voice progressively rising until she was shouting, considerably louder than Quinn had been.
"You should have been there. You should have come. I don't care if you had to fuck every professor in the school, I don't care if you had to steal a car or kidnap someone or hijack a plane, you should have been there! You were part of us, you're STILL part of us even if there's nothing left in Lima anymore to be part of, you should have been there! You fucking DATED him, you thought you LOVED him, you told him that he was having your fucking BABY, and you should have been there to say goodbye! You should have been there for him, you should have been there for everyone else who was bawling for two straight days, you should have been there for YOU, and you…you should have been there for me. We needed you there, Quinn….I did. I fucking needed you, you and Brittany both, and you weren't there. What the fuck do you say to that?"
She didn't give her a chance to respond. Instead she hung up the phone, throwing it onto the couch, and then sunk down on its cushions, burying her face in her hands. She didn't realize until she felt the tears leak through her fingers that somewhere during the conversation, she had started to cry.
It was almost a full week after Santana's conversation, if you could call it that, with Quinn before Santana felt she could try to call Brittany. Her talk with Brittany, she knew, would be different; over the years of first her friendship, then her relationship, and even now with her ex-relationship with Brittany, Santana had never been able to get mad enough at Brittany that she could say anything too mean to her, or even show her near to the extent that she would anyone else how upset she was. Somehow Brittany was different than everyone else in the world to Santana, special and almost pure in a way that she instinctively sought to protect, and no matter what Brittany did or said, Santana could never seem to get mad enough to really snap out at her.
No matter how hurt she felt by Brittany, she never wanted to hurt her back. So when she finally steeled herself to call her, she felt not angry, but nervous, even sad, as she waited for her to pick up.
She didn't waste much time on talking about Lord Tubbington or any of Brittany other quirky theories, about her waitressing job or even her new girlfriend, Dani, although she was pretty sure that Brittany and Sam were broken up now, and a small part of her would have felt satisfied to be able to share this news. Instead she got to the point as soon as she was able to, speaking to the other girl with quiet directness and cringing at the poignancy she heard in her own voice.
"Brittany…I really wish you would have come to Finn's memorial. I know they don't let you miss much at MIT, but…I really wanted you to come. It wasn't the same without you."
She didn't tell her that she had needed her, even though, even with Dani in her life, it still felt true; she didn't tell her that she should have done it for Finn, like she had Quinn, because in all actuality, Finn and Brittany, despite being part of the extended Glee family, had spent very little time together. She didn't tell her that she was disappointed, although this was the truth. She let her words hang, waiting for Brittany's response, and barely heard the girl's soft, soothingly worded reply. It didn't matter to her in the moment what Brittany said; she only needed to get out her own thoughts for her to hear.
"Brittany…if it was me, and not Finn, would you have come? No matter what you had to miss or what was going on…would you have been there?"
"Santana, of course," Brittany reassured her, not a hint of hesitation or doubt in her tone. "Of course. No one could have stopped me. But it wasn't you, honey. You're still here. You're here, and any time you really need me, I'll be there too."
Already Santana can feel the tears clogging her throat, slowly climbing to stuff her nose and press behind her eyes as she grips the phone, swallowing hard. She is tempted to tell Brittany that what she is saying is false, that she was not there for her then and she is not there for her now, right in this moment in time. But what comes out instead is a whisper that even she barely hears.
"Brittany….don't ever let it be you. Please don't ever die."
Long distance communication
Santana couldn't call Puck, at least for the first three months that he was stationed, and as it was, she wouldn't have known what number to reach him at. But she could write him, and after considerable thought, she did go to Coach Beiste, the one person that she probably knew would have his address, and asked her for it. It was another week before she actually put thought into what, specifically, she would write, and two days past that before she sat down to do it.
She had been angry at Puck, during the memorial, for her assumption that he had taken Finn's jacket from her. She was still pretty sure he had done it- who else would have, after all, and it wasn't like he hadn't stole anything before. Fine, maybe Puck had had more ties to a letterman jacket than Santana had, even if she had had the feminine cheerleader version. Maybe Puck had been closer to Finn than she had, and maybe- just maybe- he deserved to have something so reminiscent of Finn more than she had too. But it hadn't been his to take, and she hadn't made the decision to give it up, as Kurt had done so for her. It hadn't been his, and for weeks after she had burned with anger towards him, but hurt moreover, whenever she thought about the loss.
It wasn't until she realized that it was easier to be upset over the loss of the jacket, rather than the loss of Finn himself, to be angry at Puck for taking it away from her rather than at Finn for dying at all, that Santana's frustration with Puck began to fade, and she began to look at what she still strongly suspected to be his action in a new light. Puck was just as upset as she was, if not more so; he wanted the jacket, just like she had, and maybe Will was right…maybe he had needed it more than she did, in a way. Santana wasn't used to thinking charitably or generously towards others, but given time and distance, when she tried, it slowly began to occur to her that she had a lot, compared to Puck.
Maybe she didn't own something of Finn's herself, but Kurt and Rachel both did, and she could look at, touch, or even ask to borrow what was now theirs at any time, and both would likely understand and allow her to have it until she felt that she could give it back. Moreover, Kurt and Rachel had both been extremely close to Finn, harboring memories and love for him that likely only Puck and Will could match up to in intensity, and she knew that at any time she felt especially sad, they could more than empathize. If she ever needed, they would support and give comfort and encouragement and not judge her at all; they would both simply be there for her until it was no longer needed.
Puck didn't' have that. Puck would never ask for that, even if he did, and now, ironically enough, given how little he would be allowed to bring to his stationing, he likely didn't even have the jacket she believed he had stolen. All Puck had was memories, memories and pain, and in the end it was this reasoning that made Santana choose to reach out. Because if no one else was, well…that just seemed sad.
And so she had written, not worrying about how it sounded or flowed, and in the end she had not even reread her own words, worried that she would then at the last minute want them to change. She had stuffed the letter in the envelope and mailed it off, and left any reply that might be forthcoming up to him.
I still think you probably took Finn's jacket but I've been thinking about it and it's okay. Well, not okay, because you taking shit that belongs to me isn't cool and never will be, no me gusta, still. But if you did, I'm over it.
I know he was your best friend, and I know you don't really talk about feelings or crap like that and you've never talked about what happened or what it was like when you knew. I'm not gonna ask you to because you probably don't want to and honestly I don't think I really want or could handle hearing it. And I'm probably about the last person you'd pick to talk to anyway. The bitch and the dick doesn't exactly mesh well with the sensitive and the share. But anyway.
I just want to say that it does really suck, and it kind of fucks us all up, so the stealing thing, if you did it, it's whatever. And please don't almost blow your foot or head off 'cause you've got enough holes in your head without adding more to the rest of your body. Okay?
PS I really do hope you'll be okay. And maybe you can write me back. If you want.
"It's kind of hysterical now, to think that you used to have a crush on him," Santana's eyes slid towards Kurt, her mouth tipping at the corners in amusement, and she nudged her foot into his, slumping back slightly against the armrest of the couch as she regarded him. "I mean, dude, if he'd had even the slightest inclination towards sausage fests, you would have totally been getting out the buns."
"Santana!" Kurt blurted, his cheeks flushing as he attempted to shoot a glare in her direction, but she could see him fighting to suppress a smile even as he shook his head at her. "There's no need to be so crude. I know that you never seem to believe this, but it's true. Besides, no, I wouldn't have been getting out…well, anything…"
"Not even your ding-a-ling?" she let her eyes slip down to Kurt's lap, still smirking, as Kurt, following her gaze, quickly crossed his legs, sitting up straighter, as though he could somehow stop her from saying anything further by doing so.
"This was my stepbrother we're talking about, Santana, can we please just not?"
"That's my point, that's why it's funny now," Santana pointed out, but Kurt just looked at her, his voice dropping to a softer and serious volume as he replied.
"Santana, I know you're trying to distract me by making it seem easier to talk about him. But it's okay. I'm really okay, and you don't have to."
Santana too went quiet then, shifting her weight uncomfortably as she dropped her gaze away from Kurt's. The truth was- and likely, Kurt knew this too- was that she was not just trying to make it easier for him. She was making it easier for herself too.
It was another thirty seconds, perhaps as much as a minute, before she responded, and her words when they came were soft, slightly shaken, and unexpected to her as much as to Kurt, but they were sincere, exactly her thoughts and concerns.
"Kurt…are you sure that he really…that he really did think I was decent? Are you sure…that Finn really did like me? Even with everything…even with how I was?"
She couldn't look at him as Kurt shifted closer to her, and when a gentle hand covered hers, squeezing lightly, Santana had to bite the inside of her cheeks to maintain control of herself.
"No, Santana, Finn didn't like you," he said softly. "He loved you. We all do."
He kept his hand over hers as Santana continued to lightly chew on the inside of her cheeks, blinking quickly against the hot tears now pressing against the back of her eyelids. Neither spoke when Santana took a deep, calming breath in, then released it out in a slow exhalation that seemed to shudder through her entire frame. And when she turned her hand beneath his, wrapping her fingers with Kurt's and squeezing back before leaning her head into his shoulder, it seemed to her that it was Kurt's assurance of this, almost as much as Finn's himself would have been, was all that would have really made her believe.
She talked to Burt and Carol, sometimes, not deliberately seeking them out, because that would have just been awkward, but in passing, when they came to visit Kurt in their apartment, or when, on occasion, she accompanied him back to Lima and happened to drop him off or pick him up, if they had driven down together. It was always an awkward experience for Santana, not because she disliked them, but precisely because she liked them both so much that it felt very uncomfortable for her to so much as look them in the eye, in the face of their loss.
It was hard for her to talk to Finn's parents, to look at them and interact with them, to let them smile at her and greet her, to exchange pleasantries and even touch her arm or hug her, when in the back of her mind was her knowledge that she had not always been kind or even civil to their son. In the back of her mind was her fear that every time they looked at her they could see this, every time they saw her they would secretly wonder why their son was the one to be taken off the earth instead of the rude girl who had sometimes bullied their surviving son in high school and who had continually insulted their deceased son as well. It was her unspoken fear that every time she was out of their sight, the two of them would deflate or worse, become angry that she was left when he was not.
But then sometimes when Carol would smile at her with such sincerity and touch her back or hair gently, telling her how beautiful she looked, or when Burt would put a hand on her shoulder or squeeze her hand and tell her with genuine pride alight in his eyes that Kurt had told them how talented she was, how she stole the stage in their band, Pamela Lansbury, Santana would smile back, and she could believe. She didn't understand it, but somehow, for some reason, they held no resentment, but rather only love.
When one year had passed since Finn's death, it was inevitable that, whatever Santana had vowed to the contrary, a trip back to Lima would be made, and she would have to face up all over again, but likely not for the last time, to what she had lost. She didn't protest the idea, when Kurt and Rachel brought it up, and not only because Rachel had been meticulously plotting it for weeks. She knew that regardless of what she wanted or thought, that she would be coming along on this trip not because she herself felt that she wanted or needed the closure it would bring her roommates, but rather because they wanted and expected her to go, and this was enough for her. If they needed her, if they wanted her, for any reason that might come up along the way, she could not let them down.
The car ride had been hard enough; it seemed that Rachel was insistent on playing and singing along to songs that reminded her of Finn, and although it didn't make Santana choke up or burst into tears, as it would have one year ago to hear, or even become irritable and snappy towards the others, it did set her in a sad, thoughtful mood, bringing up memories she rarely pulled up into the foreground of her mind anymore. She could see the same in the others' faces, hear it in their voices when they sang along, and yet the moment was not entirely depressing, but somehow bittersweet, and she wasn't entirely sorry that she had not fought Rachel for her choices.
She would have expected the whole Glee club, especially Mr. Shue, to show up at the cemetery on this day, but either they did not realize or keep up with the passing anniversary's date, or they would come later or already had come and gone. They had not shared their plans to return on that exact date, and so the three of them were alone as they made their way into the cemetery's entrance, not speaking, the only sounds all around them being the noise of their feet against the ground.
Rachel had inserted herself in between, and as they drew closer to Finn's grave she took hold of both Kurt's and Santana's hands, squeezing lightly as she continued to move forward. Santana heard her draw in a slow, steadying breath, saw her blink several times, but her chin was lifted, her shoulders squared, eyes clear, and she did not falter in her steps or slow her pace. She maintained hold of their hands as they finally located and stopped before the grave, looking down at the letters etched in the granite before them, dating Finn's birth and death.
There were some tears, as was only natural, as Rachel reached out, tracing the letters of Finn's name with slightly shaking hands. Santana saw Kurt thin his lips into a small white line, and she noticed then that he had chosen to wear one of Finn's shirts, tucked into his pants but nevertheless billowing out, obviously ill-fitting, but somehow seeming to belong to him, to seem right on him, all the same. She had noticed long ago that Rachel was wearing the earrings Finn had given her, the ones Santana herself had helped him pick out, and although Santana had nothing of his on her, she nevertheless didn't feel at all left out. She was with two of the most important people in his life, and she now knew and believed that she had been important to him too; there was nothing more she needed or wanted.
When Rachel sang to him, her voice high and sincere, clear but nevertheless holding deep emotion in its tone, they both let her sing alone for the first verse. Kurt joined her after the chorus, and in the third stanza, Santana joined in as well, their voices blending together, pure, genuine, and full of love. A tribute to Finn, to their memories and their past, but moreover, a tribute to themselves, to their future together, and the new life and family they had made.
"I Will Remember You"
I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories
Remember the good times that we had?
I let them slip away from us when things got bad
How clearly I first saw you smilin' in the sun
Wanna feel your warmth upon me, I wanna be the one
I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories
I'm so tired but I can't sleep
Standin' on the edge of something much too deep
It's funny how we feel so much but we cannot say a word
We are screaming inside, but we can't be heard
But I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories
I'm so afraid to love you, but more afraid to loose
Clinging to a past that doesn't let me choose
Once there was a darkness, deep and endless night
You gave me everything you had, oh you gave me light
And I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories
And I will remember you
Will you remember me?
Don't let your life pass you by
Weep not for the memories
Weep not for the memories