Pairing: Santana Lopez/Brittany Pierce, side Mike Chang/Quinn Fabray, Rachel Berry/Noah Puckerman, Kurt Hummel/Sam Evans
Disclaimer: Nothing owned, no profit gained.
Summary: Turns out, some girls take some serious getting used to. It’s not her fault she’s rooming with a lunatic.
A/N: Title from Sara Bareilles' "Uncharted."
The first thing Santana Lopez sees upon entering what is to be her home for the next nine months is a pair of sweatpants.
Bright red sweatpants. Across the ass of which is scrawled, in what looks suspiciously like puffy paint, the phrase “Crazy Legs.”
It is decidedly not the promising start she’s been hoping for.
She’s almost tempted to turn and walk right back out again, but the sweatpants happen to be attached to an actual girl—who, joy of joys, is bound to be her roommate—and that actual girl happens to have actual ears. Which means, go figure, when Santana shifts her right foot a little and accidentally trips over an ill-placed box, the head at the very top of said girl retracts from its place under the bed and swivels her way.
Awesome. She’s blonde.
And perky to boot, she notes with a faint scowl as the girl scrambles to her feet, a boisterous grin fashioning itself upon pink lips. “Hi! You must be the fourth!”
Fourth. Great; she’s the last one here.
Might as well do this shit.
“Santana,” she greets brusquely, tucking the laundry basket more firmly under her arm and gripping the blonde’s palm for a second. “You are?”
“Brittany,” the girl chirps, giving her hand a vibrant little shake. “Brittany S. Pierce. Like ‘Oops I Did It Again’, except not.”
What. “Right,” Santana mutters, shifting back on her heels and glancing back out the way she’s just come. They’re standing in the smaller of the two available bedrooms, joined in the middle by a shoebox-sized living area and the tiniest bathroom in the history of showering. All things considered, she knows the situation could be much worse; she’s heard of dorms with four or five girls crammed into a singular space, drowning in their own overabundance of hair dryers and cosmetics. It could be worse.
Still, bunking with a leggy blonde whose smile suggests she’s one fundraiser short of a full-blown sorority is not high on her list of miracles. She can only hope the other two are less—
“You must be Santana!” a bubbly cry rips into her thoughts. By mere virtue of obstinacy, she manages not to visibly leap in surprise.
Oh, fuck me.
It’s a midget. Not legally, she guesses with a roll of her eyes, but damn close enough. All brown hair and orange-and-purple argyle, the beaming little thing barely comes up to her shoulder. Wonderful. She wonders if she’ll need a specialized social pass for sharing space with—
“Rachel Berry,” the tiny beast burbles, working a hand into Santana’s and pumping enthusiastically. “Music, first year, honors. On scholarship, of course, and so excited. I would stay and chat, but my dads are waiting in the car. Lunch, you know, highly essential meal. Don’t worry, though; I’ll return soon enough and then you can tell me everything I should know about my new roomie! Lopez, was it? That’s Hispanic, yes? Such a rich culture. I applaud the university’s brilliant diversity policy! Oh, this is going to be great.”
And with that, she’s out the door, leaving Santana with her hand in the air and her mouth hanging open.
Brittany treats her to a surprisingly casual shrug and another too-bright smile. “Seems nice, right? I think we’re all gonna get along.”
The drawl that emanates from the living room, sent forth from the wry lips of their fourth roommate, sums up Santana’s baffled thought process a bit better.
“In two weeks,” the haggard, beautiful blonde mutters with her chin perched upon one dainty fist, “she’ll be dead. That’s getting along.”
Santana figures this last girl is God’s apology for the ridiculous amount of cheer she’s about to be subjected to. Better than nothing.
It’s the start of a very, very long year.
The annoyed blonde, Quinn Fabray, does indeed prove to be the saving grace of room 314—a fact Santana barely needs a week to absorb. High-class, highly religious, and highly strung, Quinn is decidedly as bitchy as she is beautiful, but seems to know how to keep her mouth shut and her thoughts to herself. Santana appreciates that, even if she does get the sense that there will be a price to pay for the girl’s relative sanity somewhere down the line.
Their roommates, on the other hand, don’t appear to have ever learned the particular skill set which involves silence and secrecy. Rachel proves herself to be painfully exuberant from the get-go, and it seems to bring a similar notion out in Brittany. Despite all physical dissimilarities, they hit it off immediately, which makes Santana wish they’d just get their shit together and move into the same bedroom.
But, naturally, Rachel is perfectly content living in what they’ve dubbed “The Queen Room”, even if it does mean her epic life-story sessions come at the risk of bludgeoning in the night. Brittany, for her part, doesn’t argue the issue of living in a smaller room—or, when Santana thinks of it, argue much at all. She doesn’t think she’s ever met such a happy-go-lucky, free-spirited person in her life.
By the end of the first week, Santana despises them both.
It’s not a conscious decision; she knows it would be easier not to loathe the people she’s stuck with for the rest of the year. She even tries to tolerate them…for a while.
Is it her fault patience doesn’t run in her genetic history?
And it’s not like Quinn is doing much better. Santana keeps catching glimpses of what the blonde obviously feels is carefully-contained psychosis, mostly when Rachel is in the room. Slender fingers clench around pillows, pens, and forks, and Santana senses the inevitable snap will be glorious. Like something out of 300. She imagines Quinn screaming, “This is Sparta”, grasping Rachel by the collar of her immaculately ironed blouse, and dragging her to the window—
So, okay, maybe Quinn’s not the only one barely managing her madness.
But Rachel is a pain in the ass—no way around it. Her initial monologue has turned out to be a shortened version of the norm; Santana’s teeth have taken to setting on edge the second she so much as smells the other girl’s perfume. She’s pretty sure this is what blind hatred feels like: lying in bed, dreaming of the day when strangling will become a socially-acceptable mode of shutting someone up.
It’s made worse by the brunette’s oblivious nature. No matter how many times she catches Santana glaring unsubtle daggers her way, all Rachel ever does is smile, flounce on over, and start in on another endless diatribe. Usually about the dangers of emotional depth loss in the transition from Broadway to the big screen.
Brittany is somehow better and worse at the same time. Better, because she doesn’t talk nearly as much as Rachel; worse, because when she does speak up, Santana can’t understand a damn word she says.
The girl is, to put it as mildly as she knows how, out of her fool head.
It didn’t seem that way, at first. Brittany seemed annoyingly perky, annoyingly prone to optimism, and—scariest of all—annoyingly like a morning person. All of which makes Santana’s skin crawl, certainly. But it’s all stuff she could handle—even if rolling over at 7 AM to find the blonde systematically doing the most military-grade set of push-ups possible is sort of horrifying.
She can deal with that. No one is asking her to perform a Marine regimen first thing in the morning. No big deal.
But the shit Brittany says is just…
Seriously, she tries to figure it out. She really does. But Brittany has this infuriating habit of glancing up from her desk and saying things like, “If a Tootsie Pop got into a fight with a Blow Pop, would they ask Smarties to referee?”
The first time a question like that was uttered, Santana just stared back, open-mouthed. It didn’t seem to faze the blonde in the slightest; flashing a bright smile, she simply swiveled back around and went back to typing up an email. But for days afterward, all Santana could think was, Who the fuck would win?
Brittany’s also got this thing about dancing—as in, she does it constantly. Santana’s not sure what the girl’s major is (in fact, it seems Brittany herself doesn’t have a clue), but she figures it will be something in the music department. She is always moving, swaying, and—occasionally—doing the splits for absolutely no feasible reason. It is completely distracting, and honestly annoys Santana almost as much as Rachel’s yapping. How the hell is she supposed to do homework, or read Candide, or think with this girl doing repetitive turns in the corner?
Altogether, it’s not the sort of thing she expected to deal with upon coming to college, and maybe it’s true that she wasn’t really sure how to plan for roommates in the first place; being the only girl in the family has some very pleasant perks in the bedroom department. But really—this is what she’s been saddled with? A loud-ass midget, a lunatic dancer, and a pretty face which, while sane on the surface, is more than likely serving as a temporary placeholder for the homicidal freak within?
She must have pissed someone off. She must have.
The next time Rachel begins preaching on the ideal means of cleaning the shower, Brittany grasps her by the waist and twirls her around the living room. Quinn turns a little purple, reaching up to jam her iPod headphones further into ear and cranking the volume. Rachel giggles in her grating, pain in the ass way; Brittany catches Santana’s eye and winks.
She is so busy keeping her hand from chucking a hardcover textbook that she forgets to breathe.
Ignorance can be bliss, Santana finds very quickly—ignorance, and avoidance. The latter is much easier, because while Rachel proves pretty easy to tune out (closed doors do wonders, even if her megaphone, volume-control-challenged voice does seep through every available crack), Brittany is not. In fact, Brittany is just about the hardest person in the known world to ignore.
Not that Santana hasn’t spent the better part of two months trying. She tilts her desk towards the wall and keeps her head bent, preferring to work with a hood over her hair, clunky headphones blocking out all noise, and a pair of aviators on. It’s a solid attempt at sensory deprivation—except for the part where Brittany takes up entire rooms just by walking into them. For being such a thin, willowy structure of a girl, she seems to exude constant energy, and it’s impossible to escape. Santana can feel it soaking into her skin, like Brittany’s a heat lamp she can’t crawl out from underneath.
So she takes the simpler route and spends as much time as possible outside of their shared room. The living area is even more useless, obviously, so one day, she starts off down the hall and just starts banging on doors. Sooner or later, she reasons, she’ll have to find a room that houses normal, quiet-type people. And then she will use them shamelessly to avoid flunking out of the pre-med program before she even gets going.
It’s a plan with one gaping hole:
Their floor is full of idiots.
Okay, maybe not true—she actually kind of likes some of them. Namely Room 318, which is made up of the sickest combination of young men ever. She doesn’t know why they amuse her so thoroughly (it’s not like she’ll ever get anything done in their company), but they crack her up all the same.
Finn Hudson and Noah Puckerman are the kinds of bastards frats legitimately seek out. Well—Noah is; the guy goes by “Puck”, walks around with a mohawk, leers at anything in a skirt. He pops back enough alcohol in a sitting to sink a grizzly, stays up all night with his Xbox, and, within the first week, manages a foursome. He’s a complete douchebag, but Santana appreciates his pigheaded, Neanderthal behavior.
Finn’s a little less her style, possessing the mental capacity of a boulder, but he’s easy to manipulate into buying food for them all. He and Puckerman get along stupendously; both of them think with their dicks and stomachs foremost, barely even debate going to class, and think high-fives are the pinnacle of human communication. They warrant a lot of eye-rolling, but they’re no different than the dumb, smokin’ jocks she went through like toilet paper in high school.
The other two inhabitants of 318 confuse her. Mike Chang, phenomenally Asian, dances just as much as Brittany—which somehow doesn’t drive her quite as insane. She guesses that has something to do with his pop-n-locks not cutting in on chem homework. Chang’s cool and all, she guesses, but weirdly quiet. Not like Quinn—not to the point where she thinks he might snap and go Dexter on their asses at any given moment—but like he spends a lot of time thinking about stuff he shouldn’t. People who think too much kind of freak her out. Santana’s of the firm mind that one should only analyze so much before letting it all slide.
The fourth roommate, Kurt Hummel, is just…special. He’s a bitch and a half—gives her a run for her money, really—and wears the kind of shit Tyra would turn her nose up at. For some reason, he seems to be operating under the delusion that anyone could think him straight, which completely kills her. Nothing has flamed this bright since the last Olympics.
She can’t handle them in large doses. Finn talks about sports, boobs, and gaming, in that order, all day, every day; Kurt puts equal energy into denying his own homo-tude and ripping their hallmates to shreds; Puck keeps pointing to a Maxim calendar on which he’s counting down the days ‘til Santana gives in and rides his pony. Actually, she has to take back the earlier assertion: these guys are idiots. They’re just fun idiots. Sometimes.
They’re the only ones. Every other room is either anti-social, creepy (there’s a kid with a fro the size of Texas who keeps following girls around with his tongue hanging out; she thanks God he’s on the opposite end of the floor, because there’s someone she doubts she could keep from murdering), or strung more tightly than even Fabray. So the plan to study like a maniac and hop on the fast track to graduation is temporarily derailed, in place of—
“A Halloween party?” she deadpans. “You assholes do realize you’re in a shoebox of a dorm, right? What are you looking for, a guest list of seven?”
Puck looks wounded. “C’mon, Lopez! Have a little faith.”
“In you? Fat chance.”
“It’s going to be fun!” Finn insists cheerfully, clapping her on the shoulder. She fires him a sharp glare, pleased when his bear paw immediately returns to his lap. “You’re gonna come, right?”
“They always do with the Puckster,” Puck answers for her, eyebrows dancing above twinkling eyes. Curled in the corner with a magazine, Kurt snorts.
“Trust me, these fools won’t be responsible for the planning process. Just the refreshments.”
Well, that makes her feel marginally better about the idea. Before she knows it, she’s agreeing to their idiotic scheme (which includes illegal booze, illegal lava lamps, and the invitation of every girl on their floor) on the assertion that, should something go wrong, she’s sneaking out the window immediately and leaving them to fry. No way is she going down in her first semester for these assholes.
When Halloween strikes at last, Santana finds the party dark, and crowded, and actually not as lame as she expected. Not great, either, but she appreciates the tequila Puckerman secured, and Hummel’s decorations don’t suck. Pathetic as the boys of 318 might be, they do throw a decent shindig.
Of course, it would be better if her roommates hadn’t been invited, but at least they’re not driving her too insane.
Quinn has been standing in the far corner of the room all evening, hand clamped stalwartly around a glass of water. Dressed in a “costume” that consists of what Santana assumes was her high school uniform—pleated skirt and all—she keeps squinting at anyone who drifts too near. Finn made the mistake of trying to coax her into dancing within the first ten minutes, only to immediately scurry away in apparent terror.
Rachel and Brittany, both dressed as superheroes—Brittany’s got a Batman costume that clings to her every curve, while Rachel bops around in a Wonder Woman outfit that borders on scandalous—are much more cheerful. Even better, they’re ignoring the shit out of her, dancing and chatting with the big black girl and her shy Asian roommate from downstairs. It’s beautiful.
Until Brittany catches her eye.
Brittany always seems to be doing things like this, taking notice of Santana no matter where she is in the room and making a beeline for her. It’s getting more than a little irritating.
“Hey!” she shouts over the Lady Gaga blasting from Kurt’s iHome. “You’re a doctor!”
She’s going to be, someday, which doesn’t make this much of a costume; anyway, a lab coat swiped from her father’s closet, a fake name tag and a plastic syringe do not a solid doctor make. All the same, Santana shrugs.
“And you’re a vigilante.”
“Silly!” Brittany swipes at her shoulder, giggling. “I’m Batman! Don’t you read comic books?”
She doesn’t, mostly because comic books are for nerds, but she doubts Brittany would hear her even if she said so. Instead, she smiles thinly and sips her drink. Brittany smacks her on the arm again.
“You’re too still!”
“Sorry?” Santana replies, eyes desperately roving the room for aid. Too bad everyone seems distracted; even Mike Chang is busy cornering Quinn and beaming at her like the force of his dance-master excitement will eventually melt her icy front. Santana is pretty much on her own.
“You need to loosen up!” Brittany announces, tearing the plastic cup out of Santana’s hand and carelessly setting it onto a dresser. “Dance with me!”
She doesn’t want to. Santana Lopez is here to look scorching hot and make everyone feel fantastically inadequate, not to indulge the whims of her batty roommate. Still, it’s not like dancing isn’t fun, and Brittany is certainly good at it.
But just because she maybe laughs a little when Brittany takes her hand and twirls her around like a ballerina doesn’t mean her lunatic roommate is cool. Or that she, like, likes her or something. Absolutely not.
November“You have to have dinner,” Brittany informs her stubbornly. Bent backwards over the side of her bed, she holds a book so that it rests above her head on the floor, her blue eyes burning into Santana’s back. Even upside down, she manages to be infuriating.
“I don’t want it.”
“Don’t care,” Brittany replies. “It’s tradition. You don’t break tradition, or else the Turkey Curse comes down and all food you eat for the next month tastes like ash. You don’t want that, do you?”
“Turkey Curse?” She shouldn’t ask. She really should know better by now than to do so. But, God help her, she’s just a little bit curious about the inner workings of her roommate’s head. Maybe that means she’s losing it, too.
Brittany nods wisely. “It’s the worst thing ever. Trust me, Santana, you don’t want to be Cursed.”
“Whatever,” Santana mutters, trying to focus back on her homework. This paper is due in four days, and—thanks in large part to Brittany’s constant prattling—she still doesn’t have a solid topic. Thanksgiving dinner is the last thing on her mind.
“You’re coming,” Brittany insists. “You, and Quinn, and I’d invite Rachel too, but she says she doesn’t eat the flesh of things that can look at her. Which is dumb, since there are no eyes on a drumstick, but whatever. Plus, she already left. Went home to her family for the weekend.”
“She did?” This is fantastic news. Rachel never goes home. Actually, come to think of it, theirs might be the only freshman room to stay with all feet firmly on campus so far. Strange. “What about the rest of you? Why aren’t you going?”
“Why aren’t you?” Brittany asks shrewdly. Santana scowls.
“Like I said. Don’t want to.”
Brittany blows out a huffy breath, bangs skirting into her eyes. “You’re ineffable.”
“Insufferable?” Santana corrects with some amusement, slapping her computer shut. “Yes, I am.”
“Well, stop it! Quinn’s parents are off on some rich-Christian cruise thing and mine are too busy working to come pick me up, so we’re doing dinner here. Together.”
“Why?” Santana demands, rubbing her forehead tiredly. “Seriously, I don’t even like turkey that much, and besides, I’ve got a lot of work to—“
“Santana Lopez!” Rolling off the bed with more grace than Santana can wrap her mind around, Brittany stands and strides to the desk, index finger extended warningly. “You are coming to dinner tonight because Thanksgiving is about family and family is about doing the best you can with what you’ve got. Stop fighting me!”
Her mouth goes dry with bewilderment, unable to process the fact that Brittany has just basically yelled at her. Brittany doesn’t yell at anything.
“Fine,” she manages at last, frowning a little. “But I’m a terrible cook.”
“That’s okay,” Brittany replies, frighteningly sweet once more. “You can help roll out the biscuits. And you can make the Thankful Board.”
“We have to write everything we’re thankful for,” Brittany explains patiently. “So the Magic Turkey Spirits don’t get all mad that we’re eating its babies. Y’know?”
She doesn’t, but this really is nothing surprising. Anxious at the idea of mellow, sunny Brittany bellowing at her again, Santana finds herself nodding and scrambling for the markers hidden in her desk drawer.
Three hours later, seated in the dorm’s basement kitchenette with a tiny turkey, a pot of half-mashed potatoes, and a slightly singed pumpkin pie, she presents their strange party with the Thankful Board. It’s little more than a bubble-lettered piece of orange construction paper (decorated with what she thinks is a pretty okay turkey drawing, given the circumstances), but Brittany’s eyes light up at the sight of it.
“What’s that?” Quinn wonders around a polite, but tentative, mouthful of potato. “Did you steal a first grader’s art project?”
“It’s for Thanking!” Brittany announces, delightedly clapping her hands together and reaching for a marker. “I’ll go first!”
It takes her a startlingly long time, but finally she draws back with a satisfied expression on her pretty face. “There. That’s what I’m thankful for.”
Santana and Quinn lean over to read. In a crisp, delicate scrawl are the words “Quinn”, “Rachel”, “Santana—my favorite roommate (shh, don’t tell Rachel)”, “Mr. Tubbington” (Santana has no idea on that one), and—finally—“my college family.”
She doesn’t know why, but as she shovels a hurried forkful of pie into her mouth, Santana thinks her chest feels just the slightest bit tighter than usual.
DecemberHome sucks. Which is weird to think, especially since her dorm went absolutely batshit over the last days of the semester. Brittany took to waking her every morning with an excited Christmas countdown, which generally involved leaping up and down upon Santana’s bed until she flailed into unhappy consciousness. Not to mention how the holidays more or less broke Rachel, sending her into a ferocious tailspin of tinsel, caroling, and Jewish artifacts—which, ultimately, culminated in Quinn holding a menorah over her head and shouting irrationally about finals and the baby Jesus, all of which only pumped up the volume on Santana’s two-week-long anxiety migraine.
Still, three weeks of vacation follow the hell that was finals week, and home? Really sucks. There is snow everywhere, which means her parents are miserable. The over-excitement of her brothers doesn’t help in the slightest, and it doesn’t take long at all for Santana to close herself away in her room with her laptop and headphones.
She never thought she would actually miss room 314, much less its freakish inhabitants, but all of a sudden, she finds herself Skyping Brittany. And not just once, either; it becomes a sort of ritual, sending video chat calls to her loony roomie each and every night. Strange, and sometimes the things Brittany says still put her teeth on edge, but…
There’s just this look that writes itself all over Brittany’s face each time the call comes up, a brilliantly enthusiastic happiness that never fails to take Santana by surprise. It isn’t that she’s never seen Brittany that happy before so much as it astounds her to think that anyone could be that thrilled to see…well. Her.
But there Brittany is, bright-eyed and invisible tail a-waggin’, and it’s Christmas Eve. Despite herself, Santana can’t help but grin back into the camera.
“Are you excited?” Brittany chirps, stretched out on her stomach with her chin in her hands. “What do you think you’re getting?”
She doesn’t have to guess; she knows the drill. Eighteen-year-olds get practical gifts, being all adult, as her parents have warned her in advance. A printer coupled with a set of “mature” stationary and “proper” pens are all that await her under that tree. She should feel grateful, probably, but mostly she just finds it boring.
Typical Lopez holiday.
“Nothin’ good,” she settles for replying with a shrug. “You?”
“I hope I get a skateboard!” Brittany bounces a little in place, smile stretching from ear to ear. “I love skateboarding. Or maybe a baby sloth. You know what make the greatest pets?”
“Baby sloths?” Santana guesses wryly, smirking when Brittany nods feverishly.
“They’re the best.”
“I don’t think they let you keep baby sloths in the dorms, Britt,” Santana tells her with measured fondness, all the more amused when Brittany shrugs that assessment off without a thought.
“They’d make an exception for me. I would name him Harold, and he would sleep in my desk cubby. I would line it with leaves.”
Santana laughs, pulling a pillow into her arms and nuzzling into it. “Sounds good.”
“Mmhmm.” Brittany grins into the camera, head tilting to the side. “Anyway, I think you’re going to get something great. You totally deserve it. You’re, like, the best roommate in the universe.”
This is definitely not true, but Santana has realized very little good comes of disagreeing with Brittany. She shrugs and says nothing, smiling tightly.
They sit in comfortable silence as the clock ticks closer to the day’s birth; when the numbers reach an even twelve, Brittany sits up.
Santana bites her lip, eyes crinkling. “Merry Christmas, Brittany.”
The next morning, she is somehow unsurprised when, nested atop the bow-clad printer and pens, she finds a bright blue package with Brittany’s chill scrawl across its lid. Inside sits a tiny stuffed sloth wearing a lab coat and a stethoscope, and a silver charm bracelet. Santana cradles them both in cupped hands, lips curving.
She apologizes that night for failing to send Brittany a gift of her own, but her roommate only waves her hands in the air and produces a Spider-man skateboard from under her bed. Santana grins, but her eyes are fixed solely on the silver bracelet wrapped around Brittany’s slender wrist.
By the time second semester starts up, home is less an annoyance and more a flaming deathtrap of aggravation. Santana has taken to texting Quinn during the day and Skyping Brittany religiously at night to stay sane in the face of her father’s pestering (“A-semester, Santana,” he reminds her daily, gaze serious over the breakfast table. “No med school without the grades, baby girl.”) and her mother’s constant berating over battered sneakers. By the end of break, she’s tempted to call up Rachel, just for a change of insane scenery.
Still, she survives, and before she knows it she is back in the dorm, stretched out on her own bed with her hands clasped behind her head. It feels like freedom.
She must have dozed off, because the next thing she knows, the bed is sinking under the weight of another. Eyes popping open, she takes in Brittany’s infectious smile and the easy weight of her body as it straddles Santana’s hips.
“You’re on me,” Santana points out. Brittany rolls her eyes.
“You were sleeping. On the first day back!”
“Didn’t get much of that at home,” Santana replies dryly, smiling a little when Brittany bounces.
“Come on. The 318 boys want to watch a movie—well, okay, Mike wants to watch a movie, and I really think we should go ingest him.”
“We should what? –oh. Indulge?”
“Sure,” Brittany answers agreeably, bounding off the bed and dragging Santana with her. “And we should take Quinn and Rachel.”
“They’re back? I haven’t heard screaming.”
“Heard that, Lopez,” Quinn grouches from the living room. “I’m working on the temper thing.”
“A mandate from your anger management sponsor?” Santana suggests brightly, laughing when she is rewarded with a flying pillow. Brittany good-naturedly catches it mid-air and lobs it back.
“Mike wants to watch a movie.”
Something strange and dark coils tight in Santana’s stomach, her ears pricking at the name. “So you said.”
“We should all go,” Brittany presses on, ignoring her. Quinn makes a face.
“I hate going down there. Puckerman’s always leering at my ass.”
“So don’t stand up,” Brittany advises, hiking to the Queen Room and poking her head in. “Rachel, movie, Mike’s. Hup.”
“Hupping,” Rachel announces, and emerges a second later in a sequin-patterned pair of leggings and a reindeer scarf. Santana and Quinn simultaneously make gagging impressions.
“Unacceptable,” Quinn snips. Santana grins.
“Let’s go,” Brittany huffs, grabbing them both by the hands and hauling them out the door.
The boys’ room is messy as ever, save for Kurt’s corner, which—along with his shocking and public coming out in mid-November—has gone vibrantly Elton John in every way. They arrive to find the boys sprawled across the futon, Puck and Finn arguing passionately over which movie to put in.
“Wedding Singer,” Quinn declares as they enter, her glare daring anyone to argue. “I refuse to sit through Stepbrothers again. It’s awful.”
Finn’s lower lip juts out. Mike sits up and slaps the spot next to himself eagerly.
“Great seat right here. Best in the house.”
Santana frowns, waiting for Brittany to slip in beside him, but the only movement her roommate makes is to slide a hand into Santana’s. Quinn, on the other hand, shrugs and primly takes the seat without a word. Mike’s cheeks redden happily.
Ohh, Santana thinks, brightening. That certainly explains it.
Brittany nudges her, winking, and guides them both to a spot on the floor. Rachel allows Puck to sweep her in on his left, wrinkling her nose in warning when his hand urges a hair too close to her skirt.
“Noah, I intend to watch the movie.”
Two boys pouting, one blushing bright enough to light New York, and Kurt clearly couldn’t give a shit about any of it. The first night back might bode pretty damn well for the rest of the year, especially when Brittany drops her head into Santana’s lap. It takes no time at all for the bizarre blonde matchmaker to doze off, warm breath soaking into Santana’s jeans as long fingers comb her hair.
Up on the futon, Mike’s fingers cautiously close around Quinn’s as the movie rolls on.
“Quinn, I’m asking very nicely—“
Santana’s head jerks up from her anatomy text, which she has just nodded off over for the third time. “What?”
Quinn shakes her head, sketching light lines on a pad of paper. “Rachel wants to double-date.”
“She’s not stupid,” Brittany interrupts automatically, sock-clad toes brushing against Santana’s knees each time she comes up from a crunch. She wedges her feet under the couch more firmly, breathing deeply.
“No,” Quinn agrees, “Rachel is. Especially if she thinks this is happening.”
“Quinn, please be reasonable,” the midget whines, right on cue. Santana’s teeth grind habitually together. “It’s Valentine’s Day. Our boyfriends live in the same room. We clearly should be making the most of their proximity—not to mention our own.”
“Proximity doesn’t mean friendship,” Quinn retaliates simply. Rachel exhales noisily.
“I really don’t think this is too much to ask!”
With that, she turns on her heel and flounces into her room, slamming the door behind her. Quinn shakes her head, eyebrow arched.
“She’s never going to learn,” Santana informs her. “Smurfette is like a dog with a bone.”
“Be nice,” Brittany reprimands, batting at Santana’s calf on her next upswing. Quinn sighs.
“I’ll destroy you if you ever repeat this, but Rachel’s actually kind of okay. It’s just that Mike and I have only been seeing each other for a few weeks, and Puck is Puck, and I just…I’m not a Valentine’s kind of person.”
“Amen,” Santana mutters, offering a fist for Quinn to clumsily bump. “V-Day sucks.”
“Does not,” Brittany argues. “Chocolate and teddy bears and cuddles are awesome. I love Valentine’s stuff.”
“Oh yeah?” Quinn leans over the edge of the futon, frowning. “What are your plans?”
“Hangin' out,” Brittany replies vaguely, catching Santana’s eye and grinning. Something clenches in her gut, releasing only when blue eyes dart away again. She sucks in a breath.
“Great.” Quinn’s hands fly into the air, the picture of drama. “I’m going to wind up at some backdoor pizza place with Mike trying too hard and Puck trying to finger Rachel under the table while she rattles on and on about the merits of RENT, and you’re going to be ‘hanging out.’ Fantastic. Want to trade?”
“I hate watching Puckerman try to finger people during dinner,” Santana teases. Brittany giggles.
“No one will be fingering anyone!” Rachel bellows from the bedroom. Brittany’s giggles escalate instantly, followed by Santana. Quinn pulls a disgusted face.
“Fine. Fine. I’ll go. But only because Mike has been really sweet lately, and I owe Rachel for accidentally sleep-punching her last week.”
The door flings open, crashing against the opposite wall. “You certainly do,” Rachel fumes, but she’s smiling with every white pearl in her over-sized mouth. “This is exciting!”
“Totally,” Quinn drawls.
It takes them three hours to get ready, all of which Santana spends attempting to learn the bits of the human body that will help her pass the next brutal exam. Brittany finishes with her crunches and balances herself in a perfectly-stationary plank position.
“So,” she says, too softly for anyone but them to hear. “Dinner and a movie?”
Startled, Santana looks up. “Say again?”
“It’s Valentine’s Day, San,” Brittany presses, smiling too broadly for someone whose abs are feelin’ the burn. “Nobody should be alone on Valentine’s. I’m thinking Chinese and Tomb Raider. Lara-whatever reminds me of you.”
“Because I’m a British archeologist?” Santana guesses, slamming the book shut and grinning. Brittany laughs.
“Because you’re a totally hot badass.”
The temptation to let the words linger strikes hard, threatening to stall her brain entirely. Santana powers through, shaking her hair back and posing.
Brittany sits up, leaning back on her hands. “So? We have a date?”
She can’t say no, not to those eyes and that inviting smile. When Rachel and Quinn make it out the door at last, bickering all the way, Brittany leaps to her feet and makes a mad dash for the take-out menus near the phone. It is the first time since she was sixteen Santana has been with someone—not with someone, obviously, but still—on Valentine’s Day, and she can’t help but feel butterflies all over. Not because it’s Brittany, of course. Brittany is Brittany. It’s just that, smokin’ though she is, Santana hasn’t done the date-thing in…
Not that it matters. Because this is just Brittany. Just hanging out.
Brittany, legs across Santana's lap, fingers playing rhythmically across an open palm, totally isn’t driving her insane.
MarchAnother month, another party—except, this time, the boys are wise enough to hold it off-campus in an apartment larger than a locker. Kurt’s new boyfriend, a big-lipped jock named Sam, has anxiously agreed to house 318’s St. Patty’s party on the singular assurance than they will burn nothing down.
Puck somewhat begrudgingly agrees to this stipulation, and the night of liquor and ludicrous activities begins.
It takes roughly fifteen minutes after the shots kick in for Santana to find herself in the cramped laundry room, backed up against the dryer by wandering hands and a flurry of blonde hair. Brittany’s mouth is hotter than she ever imagined as it descends upon her own, nipping and sucking like she does this every day. Santana’s head spins gloriously.
It’s not the first time they’ve kissed, but it is definitely the first time they’ve kissed like this. An enthusiastic “thank you” peck on the lips after a grueling study session is nothing like feeling nimble fingers flick under her bra, or a wicked tongue etching letters of ownership inside her mouth. She feels like she’s flying as Brittany pins her against one battered machine, giggling when Santana kisses back a bit too excitedly.
It’s crazy, she thinks dizzily, completely batshit crazy. She did not come to college for this. But her body is responding, her hips bucking hopefully as Brittany marks her neck almost too hard, and it’s just…
It’s been building, she thinks, for a long time, and maybe she’s not entirely okay with what that means, but right now? Right now, it feels nice. It actually feels considerably better than nice, feels something much more akin to “holyballswow”, in fact, and all she can do is close her eyes and allow the rough pressure of fingertips under her flimsy skirt push her further and further away from med school, and parental strain, and Quinn attempting to throw Rachel’s bedazzled cellphone out of the window when Puck blows it up at four in the morning—
It all fades, replaced by the grunt of exhilarated effort as Brittany sinks her blunt teeth gently into the side of her throat, fingers working a tipsy, unsteady pace. Everything—the smell of vodka and raspberry body spray, the feel of a lithe body holding her so tightly to the washing machine that her back is beginning to ache, the sight of Brittany’s eyes as they lock vibrantly with her own, waiting, watching—surrounds her fully, drawing her in and making her someone she has never, ever been before.
She feels like she’s flying. Drunk, bruised, desperate to ride right off that tantalizing edge Brittany is rapidly jerking her towards, and so fucking delighted by the whole package.
She groans, satisfied when Brittany’s lips muffle the sound, the echo of a proud laugh vibrating against the roof of her mouth. No boy, none of the usual parts, and yet this is so good, so much better than—
“You’ve done this before,” she accuses breathlessly, half-laughing and half-wheezing to get oxygen flowing again. Her legs feel rubbery, devoid of muscle. Brittany strains for a second, lifting her gently onto the washer lid, and brushes a wisp of blonde hair back from her forehead.
“We just fucked in Sam Evans’ laundry room,” Santana observes, head in her hands, and now the laughter is really coming hard. Brittany grins.
“We have a bedroom,” Santana fairly roars hysterically, shoulders shaking. The blend of alcohol and orgasm have her in utter stitches, slumping half off the washer and into Brittany’s outstretched arms. “A bedroom with two beds. And a desk.”
Eyebrows twitch upward cheerfully. “We could get out of here and give those a try, too.”
Again? Santana thinks, because, even though she is currently hacking and snorting with mirth, some little voice in the back of her mind insists that doing this more than once might make it a thing, which could in turn make it a routine, which would probably lead to something considerably more real than just a quick, friendly roll in a gay man’s back room.
And she is here to be a doctor, for Christ’s sake, not a rainbow-flushed dyke. Her father is never going to buy into this, not for a minute.
But Brittany’s eyes are hopeful, and her smile is wanting, and her lips feel like life itself as they drift up and down Santana’s collarbone. She can’t say no. It would be inhuman.
As they stumble for the door, heads bent together with whispers that aren’t really, Santana hears Sam shrill, “Girls did what on my clean clothes?” She bursts into another round of laughter, derailed almost instantly when Brittany scrapes her teeth against one tender earlobe.
They can figure out the reality of things later. Right now, it’s the best holiday ever, and there are two beds, a desk, a shower, and Quinn Fabray’s favorite futon cushion to master.
Not just dating. Living with. Residing in the same place as. Sharing the same bathroom. Attending meals together, sleeping in the same bed, making fun of the same stupid people. It’s…
It’s a whole goddamn relationship.
With her lunatic roommate.
Not that she isn’t grateful, and excited, and buzzing with constant, caffeine-reminiscent euphoria, but sometimes, she sincerely has to wonder how this happened.
Brittany is, in the least mild sense possible, off her gourd. Beyond that, she’s incredible. An incredible dancer, an incredible gardener, incredible at kissing and getting up ungodly early. She’s great with animals, and soothing Rachel’s psychosis, and color-coordinating hats with her every outfit. She’s rough around the edges in the classroom, and with following directions, and maybe even with basic conversation habits sometimes, but she makes the prettiest yarn bracelets in the world, and she listens without question, and she has an impeccable sense of timing when it comes to instituting sex breaks during homework time.
Santana is beginning to think this is what falling in love feels like.
It’s bad. It is a bad, bad thing, and it’s only going to end in chaos, but the idea of stopping doesn’t cross her mind for more than half a second. Who cares that she’s going to be in school for another eight years? Or that her conservative parents will probably light everything she owns on fire and leave it on the lawn to burn when they find out? Or that she’ll probably never be allowed to speak with her brothers again? Who cares that Brittany will probably wind up managing a low-income dance studio, and Santana herself will probably wind up in some sketchy med program she is far too awesome for, and they might wind up living in a three-bedroom apartment with Puck and Rachel and Quinn and Mike until they’re old and decrepit?
And who cares that thinking about any of this after less than a month easily constitutes insanity?
She’s losing her mind, and her whole life is probably going straight down the toilet after this, and she cannot for her money stop thinking in a constant slew of ands, but…
Brittany is sleeping in the bed beside her. Not in her own bed, but in this same one, stretched out on her back with her toes digging into Santana’s sock-clad ankle, hair fanned out across half her relaxed face. One hand grips Santana’s sleep shirt firmly, the only rigid thing on Brittany’s entire person right now, and it is thoroughly, fascinatingly amazing. Disturbing, maybe, how quickly she has grown used to this sensation, but the idea of pulling away and sleeping alone is just…wrong.
She has less than three weeks before she’s back in her old house, back under her mother’s rules and her father’s constant quizzing on medical terms and rare diseases, and all she can think is how beautiful Brittany looks in her bed.
And also how fantastic five-a.m. sex really is.
And also how hilarious Quinn’s face was that time she walked in on them without knocking.
She will have to go home soon, but this is somehow all that matters. It’s crazy. She has officially become a crazy person. A crazy person with the hottest girlfriend in the world, who has the distinct pleasure of grossing out her roommates with overshares and tempting Puck into foursome proposals (which gets him subsequently punched in the jewels by tiny, rageful fists).
For a crazy person, she feels very excited. And stable. And happy. She has less than three weeks to enjoy it. She might as well start right now.
The noise of sleepy surprise Brittany makes when Santana slides a hand down her pants is the most endearing thing she’s heard all day.
May“I can’t do it,” she hears herself babbling, hands shaking as they toss pencils and paper clips into a box of their own accord. “I can’t. This is insane.”
“Is not,” Brittany argues from the bed where she is carefully tying her left sneaker. Santana looks up, eyes blazing.
“I can’t go home, Britt. Not while I’m dating you, not if I want to keep my liver.”
“Think you need that,” her girlfriend replies with a tiny, almost sad smile. Santana shakes her head.
“But I can’t break up with you, because you’re the most fantastic person in the world, and somebody else would totally notice in, like, two days. And then you’d come back in August with a girlfriend from France, and she’d have tattoos, and your hair would be blue, and both of you would have all these inside jokes about parking garage sex and bicycle races, and I’d just be lost, Britt—“
“Blue? Really?” Brittany wonders. “Plus, I’m not going to Canada.”
“Left in the dust and miserable,” Santana goes on, oblivious to the words, “because then I’d have to spend the next three years living with two complete idiots, and I really can’t deal with Rachel and Quinn at each other’s throats by myself. Not to mention all the straight sex. God, if I never hear Puckerman’s dirty talk through the wall again, it will be far too soon—“
“Santana,” Brittany interrupts, standing from the bed and catching Santana’s flailing hands. “Shut up a second.”
She does, biting her lip and frowning. Brittany’s hands move up to cradle her face, smushing her cheeks gently.
“We’re not breaking up,” she says calmly, “because we’re perfect, and perfect stuff is forever. Besides, you haven’t met my cats yet. That’s life-changing.”
Santana manages a shaky smile, leaning into the strong hands holding her up. “Right.”
“But you’re not going to tell your parents either,” Brittany goes on, “because you have to turn into the raddest doctor in the world, and make all kinds of money so we can live on a space station together. Getting kicked out at eighteen doesn’t fit with the plan.”
Her girlfriend is insane, Santana remembers, the urge to laugh like an idiot welling up. Insane, but so much fun.
“Space station, huh?”
“And my hair will be green,” Brittany says firmly, grinning. “Because I like green best. Okay?”
It makes no sense, but somehow, this plan makes Santana’s stomach feel ten times calmer. She sucks in a breath and lets it out slowly, closing her eyes.
“I’m dating a girl.”
“You are,” Brittany agrees. “The hottest one ever.”
“I’m dating a girl who I won’t see for three months.”
“We’ve got webcams,” Brittany reminds her. “And email, and Facebook, and letter-writing. I think I can train the crow who lives in my gutter to deliver them.”
Santana sighs. “Won’t be enough, will it?”
“Probably not.” Brittany shrugs, smoothing her fingers across Santana’s eyebrows for no reason at all. “But it’s just summer, San. Summer’s nothin’.”
“Summer is supposed to be awesome,” Santana grumbles. “Remember when summer was awesome?”
“Still can be. You’ll come visit me, and we can visit Quinn and Rachel together, and it’ll be done before you know it. I promise.”
Santana looks up at her mournfully, then back at the desk: a battlefield riddled with papers and unpaired socks and the occasional Red Bull. “I have to finish packing.”
“Or,” Brittany suggests, “you can come out with me. The rain finally stopped, and it’s perfect dancing weather. The packing can wait.”
Packing never waits. Packing, like homework, is meant to be done when needed, no questions asked. It’s the mark of a good student, a talented doctor, a dutiful daughter.
But the mark of Santana Lopez, successful transfer from freshman to sophomore, girlfriend of Brittany and sort-of lesbian, is following her girl down three flights of stairs to the glittering yard outside. The mark of Santana Lopez, recent sex-addict, watcher of late-night films, mocker of temperamental midgets, is spinning in joyful circles while Mike does a cartwheel and kisses Quinn’s cheek. Puck hikes Rachel up over his shoulder and laughingly dodges Finn Hudson’s clumsy tackle. Brittany ruins Kurt’s hair and pulls him into a dance before he can get angry about it. The mark of Santana Lopez, happy, is to indulge in all of this with a beaming smile on her lips.
Her roommates are insane—possibly clinically, legally, utterly, in fact—and not at all her own decision. Her friends are dopey boys—oafish, bizarre, and just the least bit unethical at times—who are too dumb for their own good. Her girlfriend lives in a world all her own.
It has been a damn good year, all things considered.
The countdown for fall begins now.