Part Six: Not Scared of the Elements
Kurt is losing his touch. He must be. There was time when he'd have been the first person to barge onto the stage and belt out a torch song in honor of his best friend's wedding, but Santana Lopez had beaten him to the punch. Granted, it had been a lovely gesture, but lovely gestures aren't exactly something that Santana is generally known for. That would be his forte, but he didn't even think to arrange a song with the band. Ergo—he is losing his touch.
It's a shame too, because the bass player is very attractive, and Kurt is certain that he's been checking him out for the last hour. He wishes that he was more inspired to act on it, but he's still a bit disenchanted with romance after his last relationship. Rachel keeps telling him that he's an idiot for breaking things off with Rodger, and maybe he is, but he'd sadly discovered that he's just not cut out to be in a relationship with someone who risks his life on the job every day—never knowing if, one day, his partner just won't come home again. Kurt knows that could happen with anyone at any time, but it's different when you have to constantly live in dread of it.
But today is not the day to be thinking maudlin thoughts. It's a day meant for celebrating Rachel and Quinn, their love for each other, and the crazy little family that they've all made together. He feels like a proud brother to the brides, and he's certainly been enjoying himself, making his way around the room and catching up with old friends. He's especially enjoyed chatting with Mercedes and finally having the chance to check out her fiancé up close and in person. Kurt very much approves of the man, but he really does need to find the time to take a trip to Los Angeles before her wedding, especially since he'd offered to design her wedding gown. She seems suitably impressed with the ones he'd designed for Rachel and Quinn—though wedding gowns are not his specialty. He's thinking that he should add them to his repertoire after his smashing success today.
In any case, he's happy that this wedding has gone off without a hitch—well, apart from that worrisome little delay when Quinn had been stuck in traffic—and that the reception has been thus far free from disturbances or drunken shenanigans. Of course, there's still time and more than one suspect capable of causing mischief. He's keeping his eye on Jesse St. James. Mostly though, he's keeping his eyes on Rachel and Quinn, because the way that they're radiating happiness around the room is a joy to watch.
He's currently watching them from the bar where he's waiting for his Cape Codder. It's never a good sign when you have to explain to the bartender how to make your drink, but he supposes that he really can't complain when the liquor is free. He should have just called it a Vodka Cranberry and been done with it.
"Hello, Kurt," comes a familiar voice from behind him, and he turns to see Steven Piper ease up to the bar with a friendly smile.
Kurt returns it easily enough. "Steven," he greets with a nod.
The man is certainly easy to look at—a sun-kissed, blond Adonis in tailored Armani. It's such a shame that his wardrobe is the only part of him that's out of the closet. Of course, Kurt isn't supposed to know that—no one is—but Rachel is his best friend, and it was his shoulder that she'd first cried on when she'd finally discovered that the man she was starting to fall for back in college was gay. He can't help being a little disappointed that his friendship with Rachel had prevented him from taking his chances with Steven back then, because there's no way it can ever happen now with the paparazzi following the man's every move and Kurt being so very not interested in being anyone's dirty, little secret. It had bothered him considerably that Rodger wouldn't tell his coworkers about his sexuality, but at least he'd been out to his family and friends.
When the bartender slides Kurt's drink onto the bar, Steven orders two glasses of sauvignon blanc—undoubtedly one for himself and one for his date. "I'm surprised you're not up there singing as well," he comments.
Kurt raises an eyebrow as his lifts his glass. "I could say the same of you. You are the one currently starring on Broadway."
Steven chuckles and shakes his head. "It's my night off. Thankfully, Rachel scheduled her wedding for our dark night, but unlike her, I have to go back to work tomorrow, so I'm saving my voice. Her understudy isn't quite as generous with covering up my little flubs."
Kurt smiles at that. Generous isn't a word that most people use to describe Rachel Berry—Rachel Fabray now—but that's only because they don't take the time to really look beyond her obvious personality quirks. He'd made that mistake for several years, and he'd nearly missed out on an incredible friendship because of it. He's so very glad that Rachel was willing to give him a second chance.
"Well, I doubt any little mistakes you might make will have much effect on your popularity. You certainly seem to have more than a few admirers here tonight." Kurt has seen a number of women either eyeing him up with appreciation or outright approaching him to fan-girl, including Tina, Harmony, and even Judy Fabray, who had blushed like a schoolgirl when she'd met him.
Steven shrugs. "It's flattering, but I'd rather they be admiring the brides, who, by the way, look gorgeous," he observes with a grin before collecting one of the wine glasses from the bar. "You did a fabulous job with their gowns," he compliments, lifting his glass to Kurt.
Kurt flushes with pleasure, raising his own glass and tapping against the rim of Steven's. "Thank you, sir."
As Steven sips his wine, his hazel eyes dart out to where Rachel and Quinn are finishing a dance. "I envy them," he murmurs quietly after a moment.
Kurt suspects that his reasons are slightly darker than the desire to find his own epic love. After all, Rachel is living her life openly, unconcerned with the effect that marrying another woman might have on her blossoming career. Kurt does feel a bit sorry for the man, but he's living in a prison of his own making. "I think we all want a little of what they have," he says mildly.
Steven smiles ruefully. "Well, I wish you better luck with achieving it than I'm destined to have." It's probably as close as he'll come to admitting that he's unhappy with his choices. He slides the second glass of wine off the bar, holding it lightly in his left hand. "If you'll excuse me, I should probably get back to Gabriella."
Kurt nods and watches him walk back to his date. She's been spending most of the night enjoying the company of Jessica Foster, whom Kurt is certain that she'd never met before, and he can't help wondering if she and Steven are playing the same game of hide and seek with the truth. She has to be getting something out of her arrangement with him, but it's really none of Kurt's business—as much as the idea of juicy gossip still tempts him, he's come a long way since high school.
They all have.
He sees the proof all around him, in the faces of his old friends who have all left their difficult, often embarrassing pasts behind them and moved on to successful careers and relationships and cities far away from Lima, Ohio. Well, except for Finn, but even he's managing to run a thriving business and have a (mostly) happy marriage. Frankly, Kurt is a little surprised that's working out so well for him, but he's glad that his step-brother seems to have finally found his place in the world—even if he is currently revisiting his past.
Kurt is already on his way back to the table when he sees Finn approach Rachel and Quinn with his hands in the pockets of his suit jacket, chatting with them for a moment before he tips his head toward the dance floor. Harmony hangs back with a frown and her arms crossed over her stomach while Rachel turns to Quinn, who leans in to kiss Rachel chastely and then lets her go off to dance with Finn.
Quinn doesn't exactly look happy to be left alone with Harmony, and Harmony simply doesn't look happy, so Kurt makes a calculated detour, approaching them just as Harmony purses her lips and tears her eyes away from the awkward dance that Finn and Rachel are sharing. "So, tell me all about your next book," Harmony addresses Quinn with a too-wide smile. "I just know that I'll love every word of it."
Kurt glides to Quinn's side, slipping an arm around her waist. "Ah ah...no spoilers allowed," he tuts with a grin. "Even I can't get more than a vague synopsis out of this one, though I agree that Quinn can be quite the wordsmith when she wants to be."
Quinn sends him a grateful smile. "I can probably send you an advanced copy once it's ready for print," she politely offers Harmony.
Harmony's eyes spark with excitement. "Oh, that would be so incredible. I loved your first book so much. It really spoke to me. In fact, if you have a few minutes to spare," she begins, and Kurt feels Quinn give a sharp tug to the back of his jacket.
He knows how to take a hint. "Harmony, I'm afraid that I simply have steal Quinn away for a moment," Kurt interrupts. "A best man's duty is never done. I know you understand."
Harmony frowns again, but she nods and says, "Of course."
"Come with me, my dear," Kurt beckons Quinn, gracefully leading her away from Finn's wife. "We have much to discuss."
Quinn easily falls into step with him, leaning into his side as they walk. "God, thank you," she murmurs. "I know it's terrible, but I just can't deal with her fawning over me. I don't know how Rachel manages with her more enthusiastic fans."
Kurt chuckles. "Oh, honey, you know Rachel thrives on that kind of attention, but there's certainly no shame in wanting to follow a more modest path. That being said, I have a feeling that Harmony Hudson is only the beginning of your fan club."
"I can't wait," Quinn drawls with a decided lack of enthusiasm before her eyes drift to where Finn and Rachel are dancing.
"Does that bother you?" Kurt asks, watching her face, which is frustratingly void of any obvious emotion.
"Having a fan club?" Quinn verifies distractedly.
"No. The Finchel flashback happening over there," he clarifies.
Quinn's lips twist into a wry smile. "I really hate that portmanteau," she mutters. "But believe it or not, I don't actually mind much. I know that Rachel has been over him for a long time, and Finn even asked me for my permission first, which was, frankly, kind of satisfying," she admits with a smug grin.
Kurt hums thoughtfully. "Well, while your bride is otherwise occupied, would you care to take a turn around the floor with me, Mrs. Fabray?"
Quinn's smile is radiant, and she nods. "I'd be delighted."
Kurt sets his glass aside on the nearest table and extends his elbow for Quinn, and she happily accepts, following him into a friendly dance. He’d meant what he said in his speech—there really is no one that he trusts more with Rachel’s heart than Quinn. That hasn’t always been the case, of course. When they were younger, Kurt had wondered more than once why Rachel wouldn’t just write off Quinn as a lost cause instead of repeatedly trying to become her friend, but it simply isn’t in Rachel’s nature to give up on anyone. It had taken a few years, but eventually Kurt started to see glimpses of the Quinn that Rachel had seen—the one beneath the steel wall that she’d erected around her emotions; the one who believed in Rachel more than she believed in herself and would do anything to make sure Rachel Berry never gave up chasing her dreams. Quinn had gradually won over Kurt as surely as she’d won over Rachel, and he’s very happy that his best friend found someone who cherishes her in the way she deserves to be cherished.
At the end of their dance, Rachel is quick to return to Quinn's side, smiling gratefully at Kurt. "So on point with your gallantry tonight," she compliments. "But I'm reclaiming my wife now."
Kurt just knows that Rachel is going to be using that word constantly now instead of simply calling Quinn by her name, but Quinn doesn't seem to mind if her smile is anything to judge by. "I wouldn't dream of keeping her from you," he assures her.
Rachel turns her body into Quinn and gazes up at her with a soft smile. "I think there are a couple of chairs somewhere with our names on them."
Quinn grins. "Getting tired of all the attention already?"
Rachel scoffs. "Of course not. But I may have forgotten how physically taxing it can be to dance with Finn," she admits guiltily, flushing slightly. "My toes might need a moment or two to recover."
Quinn giggles and pulls Rachel a little closer. "Do you need me to carry you?"
"Not yet. Save your strength for later, baby," Rachel warns.
Kurt clears his throat. "I believe that's my cue to disappear," he says with a chuckle.
Rachel sends him a pointed look. "I meant for carrying me over the threshold," she explains while Quinn attempts to stifle her laughter.
They excuse themselves after that, and Kurt watches them start back to the bridal table arm-in-arm, only to be waylaid yet again when Josie Deveraux approaches them, but it doesn't diminish their overall state of bliss. He thinks again about how far they've come, and how many bad choices they've overcome along the way. Maybe he is still waiting for his own happy ending, but Rachel and Quinn are proof to him that every wrong turn can lead you on the perfect journey when you finally get it right.
Josie remembers the first time that she'd met Quinn Fabray. The party itself wasn't all that memorable—one of a dozen others just like it at a frat house at Yale—but her friend, Holly, had convinced her to go with a group of her cheerleader friends that included Megan, whom Josie had met at the beginning of that semester, and Megan's roommate, Quinn. Josie would be lying if she said that she hadn't been attracted to the aloof blonde from the get-go, so she'd naturally spent a good portion of the night admiring her from a polite distance. She'd watched Quinn sit stiffly in a chair in the corner while she'd nursed her drinks and let her eyes wander steadily around the room, and Josie had been nearly certain that she'd seen those eyes linger for longer than was normal on more than one woman, so eventually, she'd taken a chance and asked Quinn to dance with her.
She hadn't realized that Quinn was still firmly in the closet until the girl had panicked and run out on her. Josie had felt pretty badly about that, but eventually, she and Quinn managed to navigate past that awkward first encounter to begin what Josie hopes will be a lifelong friendship. And maybe there had been a time or two back in college when she'd let herself wonder what might have happened if they'd met just a little bit later along the road of Quinn's self-discovery, but she only needs to take one look at the way Quinn lights up whenever she's with Rachel to know that it really wouldn't have changed a single thing. The two of them have always been headed for this moment.
Josie does wish that Sarah's heart hadn't gotten trampled in the process, but she can't exactly regret any of the decisions that had brought them all here. She has Sarah, and Quinn has Rachel, and they're all pretty happy about the way it's worked out. And even though she knows that Sarah will forever grumble about all things Rachel, she also knows that her girlfriend is very much over the past and very much looking forward to a future with her.
She was admittedly doing a little fishing earlier today, looking to see how receptive Sarah might be to taking the next step in their relationship. Josie certainly isn't planning to propose tomorrow, but it's good to know that Sarah sees them heading in the same direction that she does. With any luck, Quinn and Rachel will be dancing at their wedding before long.
"What's that smile about?" Quinn asks her in good-humor as they take a turn around the dance floor.
Josie's smile only grows. "Just thinking about the first time we met."
Quinn grimaces slightly. "That wasn't exactly my finest moment."
Josie laughs. "Well, I do admit, after the big, gay panic, I never guessed that I'd end up dancing with you at your big, gay wedding."
Quinn chuckles. "It is kind of gay, isn't it?"
"Two brides, one of whom is on Broadway, a gay maid of honor, an even gayer best man," Josie ticks off the list. "Not to mention the fathers of the bride and probably half the guests. I have to say, you've come a long way from your days of running out of parties after kissing girls."
"That only happened once," Quinn defends with a grin. "And anyway, I could remind you of how far you've come from your days of kissing unsuspecting girls at parties."
Josie laughs outright at that. "Not as far as you might think," she confesses, thinking of a certain New Year's Eve party and a spontaneous kiss that had taken Sarah by surprise. "But there's only one girl that I'm interested in kissing these days," she murmurs, gazing over at Sarah to find her watching them as she sits next to Rachel—because Sarah had steadfastly ignored Josie's suggestion that she should ask Rachel to dance.
Quinn nods thoughtfully. "I know that I was a little hesitant about it when you first started seeing Sarah, but I really am glad the two of you found each other," she admits. "It's good to see you both so happy."
"Likewise," Josie agrees. "Even if our better halves don't look particularly happy at the moment," she quips, glancing back in their direction.
Quinn follows her line of sight and chuckles. "Maybe we should go rescue them from the awkward small talk?"
"I do still need to collect on my dance with your lovely and talented wife," Josie reminds her, watching Quinn's smile blossom and her eyes sparkle in delight from just hearing that word again. She can't really blame her—Rachel is absolutely perfect for Quinn, and she knows that Quinn feels incredibly blessed to have married her. Josie has a feeling that she'll be feeling the exact same way someday.
Of course, first she'll have to ask permission from Sarah's parents. That's another rule of proper etiquette that her mother had drilled into her head from a fairly young age, crossing the lines of gender and sexuality as soon as she'd realized that her daughter was just as likely to propose as be proposed to. Josie has already been instructed more than once by both of her parents not to let Sarah get away—as if she has any intention of allowing that to happen. She'll follow Sarah wherever she decides to go, whether it's Michigan or Greece or the middle of the desert. She'll just have to invest in a lot of really strong sunscreen if it ends up being the desert.
Josie gracefully spins Quinn around before they head over to the table. After gracing Sarah with a loving smile, she offers her hand to Rachel with a grin. "Your turn, Mrs. Fabray."
Rachel's eyelashes flutter, and she sighs in contentment as she slips her hand into Josie's and stands. "Have I mentioned that I love being called that?"
Josie considers the question with exaggerated care. "It's possible." She'd certainly mentioned how much she loves being called Quinn's wife.
"And I'll keep mentioning it too," Rachel primly informs them all before smiling adoringly at Quinn. "Perhaps you'll have better luck convincing Sarah to dance than I did," she tells her wife before she and Josie step out onto the dance floor.
Josie understands that it's Rachel's way of telling Quinn that she doesn't mind if she shares a dance with her ex-girlfriend. Josie doesn't mind it either, not that it would matter if she did, but she trusts Sarah, and she trusts Quinn. She thinks that Rachel trusts them too, but she knows it had taken her some time to get comfortable with Quinn and Sarah reestablishing a friendship. Honestly, there were times in the early days of her own relationship with Sarah when getting past the Quinn-factor hadn't exactly been fun and games for her either.
"I admit that I'm a little curious why you didn't decide to hyphenate," Josie mentions after a moment—she may have considered the possible combinations of Cartwright and Deveraux once or twice.
"I thought about it. Berry-Fabray does have a nice ring to it," Rachel confesses with a twinkle in her eyes. "But honestly, I'd always expected to take my spouse's surname when I got married, like my daddy took Berry." She frowns thoughtfully. "Of course, in retrospect, he might have just wanted to get rid of Lipshitz," she mutters, and Josie laughs—she can't really blame the guy for that. "In any case, the gender of my spouse doesn't really make a difference," Rachel explains with an amiable shrug. "The world at large is still going to know me as Rachel Berry, the incredibly talented, multi-award-winning, triple-threat superstar. But at home, I just want to be Quinn's wife. Does that make sense?" she asks timidly.
"Perfect sense," Josie breathes out as her gaze unconsciously drifts back to Sarah as she dances comfortably with Quinn.
Rachel smiles knowingly, but the next words out of her mouth have nothing to do with names or weddings. "You know, I think we've only danced together once before."
Josie frowns in confusion until her mind makes the connection, and she barks out a laugh. "That wasn't really dancing. That was...a drunken mess," she decides, thinking even that is probably being too polite in reference to the time that she'd gone out dancing (and drinking) with Santana, Rachel, and Quinn so many years ago. "This is dancing," she points out, sweeping Rachel into a well-practiced, formal waltz that gracefully moves them around the floor and ends with a sure-footed dip.
Rachel laughs delightedly as Josie pulls her back up and into a slightly less formal version of the steps. "You're really good," Rachel compliments breathlessly.
Josie grins. "Ballroom dance classes every Wednesday night from ages twelve to sixteen."
Rachel looks suitably impressed. "Really?"
"Really," Josie confirms with a nod. "My mother thought it was important that I learn the classics for all those black tie galas that she used to imagine me attending. She also might have been slightly addicted to Dancing with the Stars," she reveals with a wink.
"Well, in any case, those lessons really paid off."
"Oh, they certainly did. There were never enough boys in the class, so I got to dance with a lot of pretty girls," Josie recalls with a nostalgic smile. "Those Wednesday nights really helped me figure out that I wasn't straight." And—well, she really does love to dance.
Rachel glances at Quinn with a wistful expression. "I wish my dance classes had done that for me."
Josie knows what she's probably thinking—that she and Quinn might have gotten here sooner if Rachel had recognized her attraction to Quinn when they were younger—but, "You obviously weren't ready yet. Sometimes the when matters as much as the who."
Rachel looks back at her with thoughtful eyes, licking her lips as she nods in agreement. "I think you might be right."
Josie's gaze moves back to Sarah. "I know I am," she states with complete certainty, thinking about when they'd first met and where they'd been eight years ago and who they are now. She doesn't have a single doubt that they're here together now exactly because of everything that they'd experienced in the years that they were apart, and she has a feeling it's the same for Rachel and Quinn. Those years had gifted all of them with love and with friendships that Josie wouldn't trade for anything in the world, and she can't wait to see where the future will take them.
Santana is kicked back at a table, giving her aching feet a rest while Brittany and Sam are talking some weirdo, sci-fi crap again. She isn't totally adverse to the subject, but she thinks that she might be too many years out of practice at keeping up with Brittany's unique mind to really follow the conversation. Or maybe she's just too exhausted from the long hours at the hospital and the wedding preparation and waking up at the asscrack of dawn to keep Quinn from having some kind a bridal meltdown because her hair wouldn't curl just right.
So she's taking the time to enjoy a little breather while she has another glass of champagne—perfectly chilled and sparkling with bubbles—and lazily watches the people move around the room. She's been dancing with Britts for most of the night, but she still carved out some time from her precious schedule to spread her patented brand of joy to every member of the Lima Escape Club—oh, and Finn. She has to admit that she's really missed some of these assholes. It's easy for her to forget sometimes just how much they've all changed over the years, especially when she sees Quinn, Rachel, and Kurt almost as much as she did back in high school, but she's glad they're all improving with age. Okay—most of them are improving with age.
The party is still going strong, but Santana knows it has to end sometime. It won't be long before Candy will be rounding up the brides to toss their bouquets, and the band will play a couple more songs before they all get their asses, in various degrees of drunkenness, kicked out into the warm, summer night. Santana honestly doesn't know what will happen after that between her and Brittany.
She knows exactly what Quinn and Rachel will be getting up to though. She's a little surprised that they haven't already managed to sneak off somewhere to get a head start on the honeymoon—or maybe they have. Santana quickly scans the room for them, but she doesn't see them anywhere.
A few minutes ago, Quinn had been protecting her toes from Finnept after finishing a boring dance with Michigan while Rachel had downgraded from Josie to Jesse St. Jackass. Santana still doesn't like that guy much, but whatever. Apparently Quinn and Rachel get their thrills by rubbing their happiness in the collective faces of their old flames. Okay, so maybe they'll never admit that's actually what they're up to with all the invites to the exes, but all their lovey-dovey talk about sharing the day with the people who shaped their journey to each other doesn't fool Santana for a minute. Bitches both still love to win. Santana has been watching them making the rounds to show off their rings and dresses and elated smiles all night long.
She doesn't see Finn anywhere either, but Harmony has Jessica cornered at the moment so Santana knows that he must still be around somewhere. Poor Jessica. Santana can only imagine the pointers that she's probably getting on her singing technique right now. If not for Brittany, Santana would be tempted to go rescue her and see if she'd be interested in a repeat of their old, no-strings sexcapades with the one and only bridesmaid.
But Brittany is here, and Santana still isn't completely certain what she's going to do about that.
And then Brittany is here, slipping into the chair beside her with a sexy smile and laying a palm against Santana's thigh.
"I need to pee," she announces, throwing a bucket of ice all over the effects of her body language.
"Uh…okay," Santana responds.
"You need to pee too."
Santana frowns. "I don't really."
Brittany rolls her eyes. "Come to the bathroom with me."
Her hand inches a little higher on Santana's thigh, seeping warmth through the lime-green fabric of her dress, and Santana's lips part with an enlightened, "Oh. Yeah. Okay."
Santana might not know what to do about Brittany, but Brittany certainly seems to know what to do with her. She decides, again, to follow her lead, and she lets Britts tug her up from her chair and walk her through the tables and the bodies in the room until they're out the door and into the hallway. She admires the sway of that perfect ass on top of those perfect legs and wonders if the rest of Brittany's body will still feel as perfect against her palms.
And then she wonders if she can manage sex in a bathroom stall with the same flexibility that she'd had at seventeen in the janitor's closet.
Santana's amorous mood dims considerably when she sees Finn pacing in the hallway outside of the bathrooms with one of his constipated faces on, but she's determined to ignore him until he spots them and blocks their path.
"Hey…um…are you...ah…could you…maybe…um…?"
"Use your words, Finn," Santana barks in annoyance.
Finn frowns deeply as twin red blotches appear on his cheeks, and he pushes one giant paw through his hair. "Just…could you maybe get Quinn and Rachel to come out here?" he asks, gesturing to the ladies' room.
Santana jerks to attention and scowls at him. "Why the hell are you ambushing them outside the bathroom? What are you up to?" she demands.
Finn's cheeks grow even redder, and Santana swears he looks like he might cry as he holds his hands up defensively. "Nothing. I swear. I just want to talk to them. That's all."
Santana doesn't completely believe him, but she's not in the mood to play twenty questions with him either, so she spins on her heel and barges into the bathroom with Brittany in tow, figuring it's the best way to get an answer. She stops when she sees Rachel and Quinn wrapped around one another in an intimate embrace in front of the mirror, and for a moment. she thinks they're making out until she notices the teary eyes that they're both sporting.
"Ay, dios! What's wrong now?"
Rachel and Quinn jump apart, and Quinn runs the pads of her fingers underneath her eyes with a quiet chuckle. "Nothing," she insists.
"Quinn and I were just having a moment," Rachel promises with a soft smile, picking up two of those fancy towels and handing one to Quinn before she begins to delicately dab at her own wet cheeks in the mirror.
"Does it have anything to do with Wreck-It Ralph out there asking me to fetch you like I'm his very own personal Fix-It Felix" Santana wants to know, crossing her arms in annoyance.
Rachel and Quinn share an odd look. "Finn's outside?" Quinn asks, turning to the mirror to check her makeup.
"Yeah. Pacing around like he needs to ask your permission to take a crap. I can go out there and kick his ass if you need me to," Santana offers readily.
"I'll totally help," Brittany chimes in.
Rachel smiles gratefully but shakes her head. "That's not necessary. I think Quinn and I are more than capable of handling this." She glances at Quinn again, who nods at her as she palms something from the counter that Santana can't quite make out. "But thank you for the offer," Rachel murmurs in appreciation, closing the small distance between them and brushing a quick kiss over Santana's cheek.
Santana huffs, ignoring the heat in her cheek while Quinn grins and mimics her wife's actions but sweeping down on the other cheek. "Yes, thank you, Santana," Quinn echoes sweetly before she takes Rachel's hand.
"Oh, get out of here you sappy bitches," she calls after them as they make their way out the door.
Brittany giggles beside her, slipping her arm around Santana's waist. Santana only relaxes a little as she cranes her head around and eyes up the door where Quinn and Rachel had disappeared.
"You want to go eavesdrop on them, don't you?" Brittany asks knowingly.
Santana sighs. "So fucking much." She looks at Brittany hopefully, but Brittany only shakes her head.
"They're supposed to take care of each other now," she points out. "But you're really sexy when you get protective."
Santana's lips quirk. "Yeah?" she breathes out, letting her arms fall out of their defensive posture.
"Oh, yeah," Brittany agrees, gliding the tip of her nose across Santana's cheek. "But you're always sexy."
"Brittany," Santana murmurs softly. She's doing that thing again—the thing with her body being close and looking so good and feeling even better and making Santana forget everything but living in the moment with her. And then Brittany's lips cover hers for the first time in years, and Santana remembers everything in a sweet rush of sugar and spice that's so incredibly nice.
She remembers the taste of her, the texture of her tongue, the pressure of her lips, and the fit of their bodies as Brittany pushes her back into one of the stalls and pulls the door closed behind them. Santana remembers how many times they'd sneak off for quickies when they'd been in school, hiding away from teachers and classmates and parents, hoping that they wouldn't get caught while getting even more turned on by the possibility that they would. She remembers christening every room in both of their houses and then christening every piece of furniture, appliance, countertop, and wall in Santana's apartment years later.
Santana remembers all of that with Brittany's thigh pressed between her legs and her hands on Santana's breasts. The sex between them had always been fucking amazing.
It's everything else that had given them trouble.
It's Brittany living happily in Los Angeles and Santana settled in New York. It's Brittany talking about Beyoncé and Demi and Pink like they're old friends while Santana is thinking about aortic valves and catheters and echocardiograms. It's Brittany in sequins and Santana in scrubs, and Brittany dreaming about setting sail on a whirlwind sightseeing tour while Santana just wants to curl up in bed and sleep for a week, preferably with a warm body curled around her.
It's suddenly realizing with a new sense of clarity that her world won't end if that body doesn't belong to Brittany.
It's the feeling that everything about today has been a nice vacation from her real life instead of coming home.
Santana tears her mouth away from Brittany's insistent kisses and reluctantly pulls her hands away from Brittany's ass. "Wait, wait, Britts," she pleads, pressing a palm to Brittany's shoulder. "I can't do this."
Brittany gazes at her with confused eyes. "Why not? Did you forget how?"
Santana chuckles mildly, easing her aroused body away from Brittany's. "No, believe me, I remember. But...it doesn't feel right."
Brittany frowns. "Oh. Are you, like, into really kinky sex now? 'Cause I'm game for anything."
"No...it's," Santana begins, shaking her head. "You're not just some woman I can hook-up with," she explains. "You're my first love. The first girl I had sex with. And for a long time, I thought you'd be the last, but you weren't, and as tempting as it is to be with you like this again, and believe me it is so tempting," Santana admits, regretfully raking her eyes over Brittany's body again. "You're worth more to me than one more night for old times' sake."
Brittany's frown deepens, and she leans back against the far wall of the stall. "Is that all this is?" she asks a little sadly.
Santana sighs. "I don't know. I don't really know what this is, but...we've been apart for a long time, Britt. One minute I feel like I still know you better than I know myself, and then I look at you, or listen to you talk about your life now, and I feel like I really don't know you at all anymore. It confuses the hell out of me."
Brittany nods slowly. "You kind of confuse me too. But I think we're supposed to be confused." She shrugs. "I mean, we were such a big part of each other's lives for so long, and then all of a sudden we weren't. We're not kids anymore. We're supposed to grow up. Some people get lucky and grow together, like Quinn and Rachel did, and other people...they grow apart," she tells Santana unhappily. "And it sucks, but it doesn't make the growing part any less amazing. I'm so proud of who you are now, San, and I'm so happy I got to be a little part of it."
Sometimes Santana still forgets how smart Brittany can be about certain things, and everything she said is pretty much exactly what Santana is feeling. "You're such a big part of it, Britt," she assures Brittany with a little sting of moisture in the corner of her eyes. "And I'm always going to want you in my life."
Brittany smiles wistfully, reaching out to ghost her fingers over Santana's wrist and tickle her palm until she can curl their pinkies together in a familiar embrace. "You'll always have me," she promises. "Even without the sexy times. I think maybe I just wanted one more good memory of us, you know? To replace the sad ones from before."
Santana does know, and she thinks maybe she's been doing the same thing. "We can still make good memories together, just not with a quickie in the bathroom at Quinn and Rachel's wedding."
"Bathrooms are their thing anyway," Brittany dismisses as she swings there joined hands between them. "You wanna come dance with me some more?" she asks hopefully.
Santana nods. "I'd love to."
She feels more settled than she has in years, like maybe when they walk out of this bathroom, she'll finally be leaving her past with Brittany in the past where it belongs with no more regrets. And maybe she's okay with that.