Title: Not An Option
Pairing: Santana Lopez/Brittany Pierce
Disclaimer: Nothing owned, no profit gained.
Spoilers: Through 3x22.
Summary: Brittany isn’t graduating. And, for some reason, Brittany hasn’t seen fit to even mention this until right fucking now.
She’s miserable. She’s miserable, which is kind of rude, actually, because this should be a happy time. The happiest, even. Sitting at a table in her favorite restaurant with her favorite girl and her favorite mom (although, to be fair, that favorite mom is kind of driving her bonkers with all the college talk lately), on the last desperate brink of life before graduation, she should be happy. Ecstatic, flushed with hope and want and a flurry of what comes next’s.
But she’s not; she’s miserable. Angry, and hurt, and more than a little annoyed—because her favorite girl, the one she can’t imagine her life without, the best friend she has ever had, just dropped that fucking bomb on her. The bomb to end all bombs. The one they’ve been listening to Puckerman and that barely-maintained squirrel-hat he calls follicles rant about for weeks.
Brittany isn’t graduating. And, for some reason, Brittany hasn’t seen fit to even mention this until right fucking now.
She’s more than miserable; she’s fucking furious.
The dinner goes smoothly, because it has to. Because her mother is the woman who stood up for her against an unwavering matriarch, and because both of them are so damn excited about everything that’s going on, and because—despite everything—Santana loves them more than she knows what to do with. The dinner goes smoothly, even though the food tastes surprisingly thin all of a sudden, and the lights feel aggressively bright, and there’s that dazed feeling in her head, like someone just kicked her off a roller coaster a second before the big drop. Everything seems wrong, because everything is wrong, but Brittany is sitting there, picking at her food and making little jokes, and her mom is laughing, and Brittany’s thigh nudges hers under the table until Santana laughs, too. It’s wrong, but it’s all she can do right now, because the only other option on the board is to leap up and start screaming.
And if she’s going to spend another year in Lima, she really can’t afford to get a lifetime ban on fucking Breadstix.
She keeps it together until the check comes, until Brittany ushers her out of the booth and out the door with a comforting hand on the small of her back, until her mom weaves and dips through a series of side streets in their battered green Jeep Cherokee. She keeps it together as Brittany tracks her down the stairs, into the bedroom, and the door clicks shut behind her. She keeps it together until Brittany faces her, staring shamefacedly down at the carpet.
And then she fucking loses her mind.
It takes a while for her to realize she’s shouting, and that there are tears cutting thick tracks down her cheeks, and how every extremity is tingling in the worst possible way. It takes a long swath of minutes to come to her senses, and when she finally does—when phrases like You didn’t tell me and We’re supposed to do this together and I could have fucking helped you are finished echoing around them—her throat feels raw, her voice hoarse. She finds herself standing here, fists clenched and shaking at her sides, watching Brittany’s face with a kind of desperation she’s never quite felt before. This is how it feels, she realizes, to pray for a punchline she knows will never come. This is how it feels to need Brittany to fix it, here and now.
Because she can’t do this alone. She’s never had to even imagine that, not with Brittany as her best friend, her first love, the one person in the world she has always relied on—even without choosing to. She’s never had to think about going to an airport by herself, or searching out apartments without a steady hand waiting in her own, or coming home from a weary job search to find the cupboards bare and the walls expressionless. In every fantasy, in every plan, Brittany has been standing there right beside her—always. She doesn’t know how to picture it any differently.
But Brittany isn’t laughing, or brushing it off, or blurting, “Of course I’m graduating, God.” Brittany is just standing there, toes curling in her pristine white sneakers, head bowed toward the floor, and oh Jesus, this is really real. This is really happening, and Santana—so wrapped up in final exams, and the pressure of her future, and the detailed lunacy of Nationals—somehow never saw it coming.
“I’m sorry,” she breathes in a rush, pushing forward to wrap her arms around Brittany’s neck. “I’m so sorry.”
“What for?” Brittany asks dumbly, the words muffled against Santana’s hair. “You didn’t skip my classes.”
Santana wants to insist that she could have helped anyway, could have done more—could have forced Brittany into the classroom each day, and helped her study every night, and made it happen, instead of just expecting. Santana, who knows better than anyone how Brittany feels about school, about words and numbers and people staring at her with that expectant distaste, could have made this work. For both of them.
But the thing is—and she knows it, just as plainly as Brittany does—it was never her place to be that person. For all her urges to protect and nurture this beautiful woman in her arms, Brittany is her girlfriend, not her child. Brittany is eighteen, and makes her own decisions, and even if Santana had been there every step of the way to hold her hand, it wouldn’t have mattered. Brittany’s decisions are still her own, and she still would have found a way to do what felt right to her. That’s just the way she is. Santana loves her for that.
But, God, she hates this now.
“I love you,” she gasps, pressing her face to the juncture of Brittany’s neck and shoulder and straining for air. “I love you, I love you, I—“
“I’m not going anywhere,” Brittany tells her thickly. Her arms tighten around Santana’s middle, clutching with a ferocity Santana is unfamiliar with. They’ve never been here before, in this place of such shadowed uncertainty. This has never been a problem, even if everything else has taken its own sweet time to fall into line. This, the thing between them, the knowledge that it would be them forever, against the world—this isn’t something either of them have ever questioned.
“I’m not going anywhere,” Brittany repeats, and squeezes so hard, Santana imagines she can feel her ribs creaking with the force of it. She whimpers, burrowing in against Brittany’s smooth, familiar skin, and prays for the right to stay here forever. Forget graduation, and New York, and her mother’s pleading for higher education: all she wants is this moment, in Brittany’s arms, behind the security of a locked door. All she wants is Brittany. Everything else can just go to hell.
“Stay,” she hears herself rasp against red-and-white fabric, and she has no idea if she’s commanding herself or Brittany. Her fingers dig into the nape of Brittany’s neck, and she’s nodding like an idiot, and Brittany kisses the side of her head with a fierce insistence. A promise, she thinks, or maybe a platitude. It’s impossible to tell right now.
“You didn’t tell me,” she repeats, and this time, the words come out defeated. Brittany sighs, pushing forward with her hips until any sliver of space between them is obliterated.
“I didn’t know how,” she admits, and Santana closes her eyes. Focuses on the swell of Brittany’s breasts against her own, the smooth line of Brittany’s body as it trails and curves, bending to match everything she is. Focuses on not letting this in.
“I love you,” she whispers again, because it’s easier than talking about this, it’s better than admitting this is even a thing at all—and yeah, they’re going to have to talk about it, probably soon, and they’re going to have to change everything. Things need figuring out, now, things like where Santana will live, and how best to keep this thing going if she doesn’t stick it out in Ohio, and whether or not Brittany has the will to push on through her second year as a high school senior. Things need to be written down, problems spelled out, contingency plans built and perfected. It needs to happen.
But for now, she can’t think about it. She can’t go there. For now, she has to believe that this is it, that this is enough. She has to breathe in the pure scent of Brittany, the apples and cream and that strange little zing under it all, the one she can smell in her dreams. She has to relish the pull of Brittany’s hands across her back, tracing each brace of her spine, memorizing. She loses herself in Brittany’s breath, Brittany’s ragged little sigh as it leaves her, Brittany’s everything, and wishes for a giant, remarkable do-over.
They could do things so much better the second time around, she knows. Less hiding, less lying, less faking what the rest of the world wants. More communication, more salvation for them both. It could be so wonderful, the second time around, without Karofsky, or Sam, or Artie, without flunked tests and careless teachers. It could be perfect.
But life doesn’t come with a reset button, and even as she tucks her chin into Brittany’s shoulder and opens her mouth in a choked sob against her neck, she knows it. There’s just no getting away from reality.
Brittany isn’t saying a word, but her hands are speaking volumes. She draws back from the embrace just enough to look at Santana, to tip her chin up and gaze at her, those blue eyes screaming for trust and forgiveness. She looks so sad, so guilty, and all Santana can do is lift her arms and close her eyes as the uniform top rises above her head. All Santana can do is reach for her with newly bared arms, stripping off her clothing piece by piece, until they stand amidst the wrinkles and the rubble and stare. Brittany’s eyes follow her every breath, the length of her arms, the uneasy gulp of air as it comes, and her lips turn down.
“I’m sorry,” she whispers, and it’s more than Santana can deal with right now. She lunges, raining an assault of kisses across Brittany’s parted lips, the apple of her cheek, heedless of grace or finesse. She lunges with the sole intention of burying herself in Brittany, and Brittany catches her—but barely, as though she hadn’t expected the motion. Brittany stumbles, the way Brittany almost never does, her bare feet skidding on the carpet as Santana drives her back toward the bed. She twists at the waist, gripping the skin at Santana’s hips hard enough to leave light marks, and groans when Santana’s tongue plunges recklessly into her mouth.
It’s not a conversation so much as a relapse: back to the millions of moments before The Talk, before opening up and admitting things so long left unsaid. It’s probably a mistake, to leap instead of step, to kiss instead of speak, but Santana can’t take that look in Brittany’s eyes right now. Brittany has always been so strong, so sure, and right now, she looks petrified. Hollow. Like she knows everything they should have worked for together is crumbling at their fingertips.
There are things Santana can’t deal with, and the idea that Brittany might be giving up—might even have given up a long time ago, without ever saying a word—is at the very top of the list.
So she kisses Brittany with wet, half-angry strokes, misery lacing each lick and nip, and tries to forget. She kisses Brittany like she’s never going to do it again, and even though she knows that isn’t true—won’t let it be true—the weight in her chest threatens to overwhelm her. It feels as though breathing can only come this way, through Brittany’s lips on her own, Brittany’s hands freeing her hair and knotting it around shaking fists, Brittany’s heat meeting with her thigh in a sharply angled thrust. She pushes until the backs of Brittany’s knees strike the mattress edge, and cants her hips, and prays that—as long as they’re breathing for each other—everything will work out somehow.
Brittany, trembling, touching everywhere she can reach with near-panicked urgency, kisses her back, and Santana knows she’s crying. She can feel it in the ragged rise and fall of Brittany’s breasts, in the clench of her stomach muscles as they rub against her. There’s salt between them, and Santana’s not sure who it belongs to, but Brittany is repeating, “I’m sorry” like a prayer, like restoration, etching the syllables onto Santana’s tongue. Brittany is crying, forehead knocking against hers, hips chasing after Santana’s thigh by habit more than desire, and it hurts the way they never should. Not anymore. The hurt was banished a long time ago, when Santana finally pulled that napkin aside, when Brittany let go of Artie and Santana let go of fear and they decided just to be. There’s no room for hurt here now.
She nudges, and Brittany sinks to the bed, pulling Santana down with her, guiding Santana’s legs around her hips until she is pressed flush to Brittany’s stomach. Her kisses are ravenous, bare of anything even resembling style, lips catching every spare teardrop, every shuddering sigh as it comes. She rocks against Brittany’s warm skin, whimpering when Brittany’s right hand splays across her back and urges her closer, hissing when Brittany’s left clenches in her hair and pulls. Brittany’s lips glide across hers, parted in those same two words, and all she wants is to shut her up. All she wants is this, the steadiness of Brittany’s lean muscle, the damp warmth of Brittany’s sweat and her arousal and her frustration as it tumbles together in one beautiful body. All she wants is the supple surrender of Brittany’s bottom lip beneath her teeth as she bites down and pulls, the roar of desperation heavy in her ears as she holds Brittany around the shoulders and rides down against her lap.
All she wants is to know that Brittany will be there for her, with her, forever and ever, amen—and there’s no certainty of that now. There’s no certainty of anything, and she can’t believe Brittany wouldn’t tell her, but Brittany is telling her now. Every pant and puff of air, every scratch of short nails raking across her skin, every whine and groan that rips from Brittany and vanishes into Santana—it’s a symphony of apology, of want, of the same graceless misery weighting Santana down. Worse, maybe, because when all is said and done, it’s Brittany’s future on the line here, Brittany having to start over again, Brittany doing the things she’s never had to. Without Santana. Without anyone.
Brittany’s hips rise to meet hers, the rounded pressure of her breasts dragging across Santana’s, and her mouth tears away long enough to release a wail of anger. Brittany isn’t happy about this like she tried so hard to make them all believe. Brittany couldn’t be happy about anything that cuts into them so heartily, that makes her feel so much like walking failure, and Santana knows it. Maybe school hasn’t always been her thing, but everything else—cheerleading, dance, song, art—is, and that should have been enough. That should have been enough for everybody from Figgins to Schuester to the assholes handing out the diplomas, and the fact that it wasn’t isn’t fair. School isn’t for everyone, not the way they want you to believe, and it isn’t fair that Brittany has to stay back again. It isn’t fair that no one noticed, that no one cared, that no one—not a single teacher in that school—ever bothered to look past the blonde hair and the cheekbones and the dazzling smile and actually notice who rested underneath.
Santana pushes away from Brittany’s lap, sliding down her body until her knees meet plush carpet, and Brittany can only stare down at her with that miserable expression. Brittany’s hand on the back of her head doesn’t feel like encouragement so much as a pleading hope: Don’t leave me. Stay. Even Brittany’s skin tastes different under her tongue, feels different as her hands smooth along lithe thighs, bumping over kneecaps, tracing that downy place at the height of her calves. She turns her nose against pale softness, tracing the taut muscle with the tip of her tongue as she drags inward, and Brittany closes her eyes. Her palm presses down a little harder, her fingers snaking through Santana’s hair for a firmer grasp, and somehow, it makes her want to cry.
She opens her mouth, taking in every inch of skin as it flows to meet her, sucking at the tiny places where Brittany’s heartbeat is the strongest, and Brittany holds fast. Brittany holds on like she thinks loosening up would send Santana sprinting for the door, and it’s all Santana can do not to lean back on her haunches, look her in the eye, and tell her graduation doesn’t mean a thing. That she can put her life on hold for another year, sit in the corner of Brittany’s room, watch her do it over again. That everything will be okay.
But she doesn’t know that—can’t know that, though every nerve in her body screams to have faith—and she refuses to lie to Brittany about something that huge. She settles for kissing pliant skin, for tracing the bow and arch of Brittany where she is warmest, slickest, for bracing the tip of her tongue against throbbing nerves and flicking gently. She takes Brittany into her mouth with as much love as she can muster, opening and closing around her, adoring her with everything she is until Brittany releases that first little moan of surrender.
Her hands catch in the dark little dips behind Brittany’s knees, fingertips tickling carefully until Brittany spreads for her, until she is granted complete access, and she knows this doesn’t make it better. She raises her head just enough, peering up through her eyelashes, to see Brittany’s face—contorted in a painful mix of hurt and want, lip between her teeth, tears staining her cheeks. She raises her head just enough, and then lowers again, putting her everything into the bitter taste of Brittany as she washes along Santana’s tongue, into the ripple of Brittany’s abs and the rhythmic jerks of her hips as they push up to her mouth. She loses herself in the gruff little sounds Brittany is making above her, in the bite of nails into her scalp as Brittany forgets herself an inch at a time, in the grace of Brittany’s legs as they move up around her shoulders.
Brittany is velvet under her mouth, gasping and sighing as Santana sketches promises into her skin, as Santana dips into her entrance with a gentle lick. Brittany’s cheeks are red and damp, her flesh hot, her hips bucking with madder insistence as Santana pushes in and out, nose bumping gently against the swell of her clit. She groans when Santana turns her head, whimpers when Santana’s teeth catch on the innermost dip of her thigh, cries out when she pushes inside and rolls her tongue. Her body catches and clenches, the muscles trembling and flexing, adjusting, and Santana bobs her head in time with the motion. Sinking in and out, fingertips scorching new paths, she hums, and cries, and relishes the familiarity of Brittany clutching at her. Relishes the way Brittany’s body expands to accommodate her existence, the way Brittany’s whispered groans dance around them, the way Brittany’s heel digs bruisingly into her back.
She lifts her eyes and watches Brittany watch her, even as she withdraws her tongue and replaces it with fingers that thrust and curl and beckon Brittany to the edge. She watches, kissing with broad strokes, with all the love she’s ever felt, and lets her world shrink to nothing more than the pulse of Brittany around her. To the buck and grind of Brittany’s hips as they jolt from the bed, to the tightening of slick muscle around her, to the soak of Brittany on her lips as her eyes snap shut and her head bows toward her chest. For one long, striking moment, everything vanishes, and there is only Brittany, coming for her. There is only Brittany’s legs, and Brittany’s hair, and the throb of Brittany under her tongue, and it’s okay to be here. It’s okay to forget. It’s better this way.
It lasts not long enough at all, and then Brittany is falling back, feet planting back on the floor. Santana sighs against her thigh, wiping her mouth carefully with the back of her hand, and rests there. It’s a moment between I’m sorry and I love you and here’s what we’ll do, and she needs it. She needs to breathe, to hold it all back for as long as she can, before everything sweeps down to drown her at once. She needs this.
But Brittany needs her, and right now, that takes precedence. When Brittany’s hand reaches for her blindly, she takes it and climbs back into bed, and waits. This is Brittany’s thing now, Brittany’s turn to say her piece, and if Santana has any right to be mad at her for keeping everything hush-hush, Brittany’s got the right to dispute it. It’s Brittany’s life, after all.
“I can’t,” she whispers after a beat of just staring at the ceiling. Her hand clenches in Santana’s, fingers pink and long and weary, then releases. “I can’t tell you why—“
Santana nods. Brittany exhales, shivering all over, and Santana stretches out beside her, arm reaching across her chest.
“I suck,” Brittany says dully. Santana pushes against her shoulder with the top of her head, biting back tears.
“You don’t suck. You’re a genius.”
“Geniuses don’t fail,” Brittany sneers, pinching sharply at her own thigh. Santana smacks her hand away.
“Some do. It’s not all about schoo—“
“Yes, it is,” Brittany snaps. “All year, that’s all I’ve heard: school. How important school is. It was all about school when Kurt and Rachel were trying out for NYADA, and when Quinn got into Yale, and when Puck was flunking his tests. It’s always about school. But I’m stupid, and I don’t even want to try when I know how everyone thinks of me, and I just—“
She hesitates, choking around the words, and blunders on only when Santana wraps a leg around her hips and presses reassuringly close. “I can’t do it anymore, Santana. Not without you. Not at all. I can’t keep doing this. The math, and the science, and the Old Man and the Sea, and—I can’t.”
“I know,” Santana says, and she does. She’s been watching Brittany struggle through each grade since they were six, and Brittany’s right: nobody has ever cared. Nobody has ever thought of her as someone who would make it. Nobody but Santana.
“I joke about that stupid poultry farm,” Brittany tells her, voice tight with a barely restrained sob, “but sometimes I think that would be better. To just drop out, to just go, do something else. I can’t keep—Presidency was great, and Cheerios, and New Directions, but there’s too little of that and too much of—“
She stops again, turning her face against the blankets, away from Santana. Her hand flexes into a fist, thudding into the mattress in frustration.
“You don’t have to go back,” Santana hears herself say, lips opening and closing against Brittany’s shoulder. “You don’t have to. You’re eighteen.”
“My mom will kill me,” Brittany’s muffled voice replies. Santana shrugs as best she can while lying down.
“There are other ways. Summer school. GED. Something. You could do it. We could do it.”
Slowly, Brittany shifts to face her again, eyebrows drawn over red-rimmed eyes. “Why?”
“Why what?” Santana demands. Brittany punches the mattress again.
“Why would you want to waste your time being with a loser?”
She’s on her before she thinks about it, straddling Brittany’s hips and glaring down at her. “Because you’re not,” she insists sharply. “You’re—hey, stop it, look at me. You’re not a loser. Or a failure. Or an idiot.”
“I flunked,” Brittany repeats, monotone. Santana arches her back and hikes her hips once, snagging her attention before Brittany can fix her gaze back on that ceiling.
“We will figure it out. But you’re not giving up on me, and you’re definitely not giving up on you. I won’t let you.”
Brittany bites her lip soundlessly, tears leaking from the corners of her eyes again. Santana thumbs them away breathlessly.
“I love you,” she says softly, tracing the slope of Brittany’s nose, the gentle groove above her lips. “I love you, and we are going to get out of here. Together. We are going to New York, or to wherever you want to go, and we are going to get married, and get jobs, and an apartment, and—“
“You want to marry me?” Brittany cuts in, eyes wide. Santana lets out a gruff laugh, surprising herself.
“I’ve wanted to marry you since you gave me that ring made of dead grass in second grade. Especially when you threw in the fruit roll-up.”
Brittany nearly smiles, palms folding instinctively over Santana’s hips. “Yeah?”
“You’re going to get out of here,” Santana tells her firmly. “We’re going to do it together. No matter what anybody else says. No stupid red gown or piece of paper is going to make you into a loser or a winner, Britt. You decide that.”
She watches the long stretch of Brittany’s throat bob as she swallows, licking her lips anxiously.
Brittany nods wordlessly, and Santana all but folds herself in half to reach for her, hugging with her whole body until the air rushes out of Brittany’s lungs and she clutches in return. It’s not this easy, she knows; it all sounds nice when it's tumbling out of her, but there’s a lot further to go with something like this than just saying, We’ll make it. Things need to be written out. Contingency plans has to be drawn up. A life needs to be rebuilt.
But she’s not interested in building that life without Brittany there—no matter what that means. It’s what she knows, even if she isn’t sure where she’s going or what she wants to do after school. This is what she knows. She doesn’t want to do it without Brittany.
“I’m sorry,” Brittany whispers one more time, the words tickling Santana’s ear. She sighs, hugging her tighter.
“It’s okay. We’ll be okay. I promise.”
And, even if it isn’t perfect, even if it isn’t what she expected, even if it actually kind of sucks, she believes it. They’ve come too far to fall apart now, over something like this. This is them.
They’ll make it. Failure is not an option.
There’s a time and place for everything
and I believe it’s called ‘fan-fiction’.
- Not An Option