In eighth grade, Noah Puckerman scores some pot and gives some to Santana without asking for much in return. He wants to smoke it with her but she shrugs him off, because she has better plans. Brittany meets her in the park an hour later, smiling in anticipation.
So, it turns out that Santana doesn't really know how to roll a joint. Her fingers don't feel nimble enough and she ends up spilling some, but after a few aborted attempts and a lot of swearing it's rolled and stuck down and only slightly misshapen. She holds it up in triumph and Brittany kind of claps her hands together in excitement, and just that look on Brittany's face is enough to make Santana feel a bit dizzy already. Maybe this stuff like, gives off fumes before it's even lit.
Getting high is awesome, Santana soon discovers. For the first time ever Brittany makes actual sense when she's talking, and Santana lets her babble on while she lies on the grass and watches the twilight gather. At one point everything seems to flip upside down so she's looking down instead of up, and she has to grab on to the grass so she doesn't fall. Then Brittany leans over her and everything rights itself again, and all Santana can do is laugh endlessly. Brittany starts laughing too and then they're kissing, hot and sweet and unexpected.
Brittany hums a little as she lies back on the grass, smiling as Santana curls up around her. Santana's fingers find the soft skin of Brittany's stomach under her shirt and start tracing patterns there, the shapes of words that Santana can't look at just yet and will forget once she's sober.
"That tickles," Brittany says, but she doesn't say stop.
It's nearly dark now. The moon is fat and low in the sky.
"You're my favorite, you know that?" Santana says.
"Your favorite what?" Brittany asks, and she starts to stroke Santana's hair.
Santana shrugs a little and smiles into Brittany's skin. "Just my favorite."
The first time making out turns into something more, they're fifteen.
And, okay: wow. Santana gets now why everyone makes such a big freaking deal about sex all the time, because that was awesome. She's been with a couple of guys before but that never really did anything for her, probably because teenage boys are stupid and selfish and lose all interest once they get off. Santana should take a few mental notes of what Brittany just did so she can give Puck some pointers, except she couldn't really focus on any specifics because her mind was too busy being blown.
Brittany curls up around Santana, her head a pleasant weight on Santana's chest. "Does this mean we're lesbians now?"
That's the question, the question that Santana keeps punching away every time it swings into view. "What?" she says, then, "No. No, of course not. Britt, girls just... experiment sometimes. That's it. It's not a big deal, okay? It doesn't mean anything."
That sounded convincing, right? Right. So it doesn't matter that her best friend just went down on her and Santana enjoyed the hell out of it. It's just sex, just touching, just – whatever. Not a big deal.
Brittany hums happily to herself and Santana feels the vibrations deep in her chest. It's kind of nice, this, lying with Britt in the afterglow – but just because she's a warm body, and skin-on-skin contact gives off, like, endorphins or something. Not specifically because it's Brittany.
She hears Brittany's breathing evening out, which means she's fallen asleep, which means Santana's going to be stuck like this all night with Brittany on top of her. Unless she wants to move Brittany, which she doesn't, because Brittany's always cranky when you wake her up. (It's sort of adorable, actually. Not that Santana's into things that are adorable.) So she and Brittany are left where they are, naked, curled up around each other in Santana's bed.
It sounds pretty gay if you look at it like that.
Junior year of high school, Santana finally spills her guts in song. It's hands down the scariest thing she's ever done, singing about her feelings while trying not to cry or think too hard about what people are thinking of her. She's a mess, she knows that, and about halfway through she just gives up holding onto any kind of facade and lets herself feel everything that she's been burying for her whole goddamn life.
Brittany's right there, and she's singing too, and that's enough for Santana to hope that everything's going to be okay.
The song ends and Brittany says, "Is that really how you feel?"
All Santana can do is nod and say, "Uh huh, yeah," even though it's not exactly true; the song is a start, but there's more she wants to say, and maybe once she pulls herself together a bit she'll be able to find the words. She walks over and pulls Brittany into a hug, probably the tightest one ever. People are clapping and Sam says something but Santana doesn't hear it, because all she can focus on is the way Brittany's arms feel so strong around her, and the thumping of their heartbeats, and the scent of Brittany's skin.
It feels like they're hugging for a really long time, past the point where it's probably weird for everyone watching, but still she can't let go – even though they must all know now, they must know, and that terrifies the shit out of her.
They pull away from each other eventually; they can't hold on forever.
It all falls apart after that.
The summer before senior year, they become friends again. It's different to how it used to be, completely and unalterably, and it's not what Santana really wants, but it's okay. Friends without benefits is kind of a sucky deal, but it's better than not being friends at all.
They start hanging out again, slowly getting used to being back in each others' orbits, even if they're six inches apart at all times. Boundaries. Santana hates them, and she hates even more that she's the one who's enforcing them. She's not sure whether Brittany understands why it has to be all or nothing, but to Brittany's credit she never asks.
And then one day it shifts, for no particular reason that Santana can discern. They're sitting on Brittany's bed watching Mean Girls for the fifty thousandth time when Brittany rests her head on Santana's shoulder like it's the most natural thing in the world, like maybe she forgot.
"Uh, Britt?" Santana says, but only softly, because she really doesn't want to break the moment. Brittany doesn't say anything, she just snuggles closer and drapes an arm across Santana's stomach. This is the part where Santana's boundary-enforcing should kick in, but she's weak, and Brittany's warm, and for a minute Santana could swear her heart has forgotten how to beat.
"But nothing's changed, right?" Santana says after a moment. "I mean, we're still... not on the same page." Santana knows it's mostly her fault, what with her crippling inability to put herself out there and show people the real her, but she doesn't see why she should have to shout anything from the rooftops. She just wants –
"I know," Brittany says, like she's been reading Santana's thoughts. "But that's okay. I'm not going anywhere."
Santana's breath hitches in her chest. It sounds like a promise.
Fall's getting on when it finally happens.
Santana sits down next to Brittany in glee rehearsal, practically fizzing with excitement. There's something that she's been wanting to say all day, and maybe now's not the perfect moment but she can't keep it in anymore.
"So, guess who came out to her parents last night?" She wanted to be nonchalant about it, but she's smiling way too hard to give off that impression. But that's okay, because so is Brittany.
"Was it you?" Brittany says, and Santana just nods, totally smirking. Maybe she hasn't exactly earned her smugness, but whatever, she feels pretty fucking great. (It was kind of an anti-climax actually, so not worth the months of angst, but not the point.)
She puts her arm around Brittany just because she fucking can, because her parents don't give a shit who she dates as long as it doesn't interfere with her getting the grades for college, and she's pretty sure that everyone in glee club has already figured out that she's a raging queer. So there's nothing stopping her now that she's gotten over herself, and when Brittany looks at her and smiles, it's obvious that Brittany knows that too.
Santana should have done this sooner.
Rehearsal starts off with Rachel singing some overwrought love song about Finn and, as they sit there watching, Santana pulls Brittany closer until Britt's head falls to rest on Santana's shoulder. With her eyes closed to ignore the ridiculous faces that Rachel's pulling, Santana actually kind of enjoys the performance. Rachel's voice is all kinds of spectacular, not that Santana would ever admit that even if she were waterboarded, and the lyrics sound like they could be about her and Brittany. Something about coming home, and finally.
She kisses the top of Brittany's head. They probably need to have a conversation, some kind of formal will you be my girlfriend agreement, but – well, maybe they don't.
They both know where they belong.